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Friday, April 12, 2013

CERA website - what do you think of it?

CERA are surveying users of their website to see what they think of it. If you want to have a say, the survey starts here.

There are lots of questions covering technical categories, demolition updates, the residential Red Zone offer,  insurance information, land zone information, support and assistance, Recovery Strategy, Anchor Projects, investment in Christchurch, central city progress, plus some questions on the quality of the information found.

You can answer as few, or as many, of the questions as you want.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

EQC Truths and the Court injunction

Media law specialist Steven Price (Media Law Journal blogger) has written an article on the decision to grant EQC an interim injunction against those having copies of the EQC spread sheet.

His commentary includes observations on areas the judge might have considered but didn’t: “But I am shocked that the court has failed to address basic aspects of the law.” This failure includes the relatively low threshold used to decide EQC had a case, absence of any consideration of the issue of public interest,  or the blogger’s rights under the Bill of Rights. These things are more articulately, delicately and knowledgably put on Steven Price’s blog here. A link to a copy of the judgement can be found in the article.

An aspect not covered in his commentary is, to my mind, a sinister aspect of the judgement. At [24] (1) of the judgement (at the end) it is ordered that the blogger file and serve an affidavit as to whether she or he “has or has had in his or her possession any information obtained directly or indirectly from EQC about identifiable individuals other than him or herself;”

The use of the words “any information” makes this a fishing expedition, designed to go beyond the current specific issue and require disclosure of material well outside the issue at hand. In this context “identifiable individuals” is not defined, and could be considered to extend beyond EQC claimants (e.g. information provided about incompetent or dishonest staff, doubtful contractors).

A useful blunt instrument for EQC and Minister Brownlee to apply. If this was judge’s intention then it has to be seen as a sinister development, if it was unintended then the judge has been careless.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

CERA - Community issues and questions update

CERA have again updated their page on community issues and questions. They will shortly be available in PDF form.

The information on the page (here) is now:

1. What kind of information am I entitled to receive about my property?

2. Once payment has been determined when can I expect to receive it?

3. Residential Rebuild Plans

Please provide links for your residential build / progress / reinstatement strategy plan. Please include the TC1,2,3 and rural areas and the start and expected end timelines as well as information on the communication homeowners can expect about their place in the queue and when they can expect it. Please include any other important information about places in the queue i.e. – vulnerabilities, change of circumstances.

4. Land Remediation

Accepting that the majority of land settlements will be cash settlements:

If land has to be remediated prior to reinstatement of a house commencing, please answer the following:

  • Whose responsibility is it to decide on the methodology of remediation and/or foundation structure and/or strengthening if necessary?
  • Who pays for remediation? (For each methodology)
  • Who is responsible for managing the remediation?

If there is an explanation of this process of decision making and responsibility please provide it.

5. Property repairs and maintenance

  • When you know you are a repair what temporary earthquake related repairs can a property owner do whilst they are waiting for their full reinstatement?
  • When you know you are a repair what maintenance can a property owner do whilst they are waiting for their full reinstatement?
  • When you don’t know if you are a repair or a rebuild what would be the expected maintenance of the property waiting for full reinstatement and at whose cost?
  • If the property suffers consequential or incidental damage as a result of a lack of temporary or permanent repair, how will this impact on the insurance claim? E.g. mould, rot, water damage.

6. A number of SCIRT-related questions have been received including:

  • What right of review do residents have if they do not wish to have pressurised sewerage systems imposed upon their neighbourhood?
  • What happens if a neighbourhood refuses to consent to such systems on their properties?
  • What right do neighbourhoods have to have decisions regarding the cost effectiveness of such systems throughout the life of the systems peer-reviewed?

7. IAG have confirmed that where a permanent S124 notice is present on a property, the claim will be deemed a total constructive loss. What are the positions of the other insurers on permanent S124 notices?

8. Apportionment, joint reviews and communication

  • As of 12 March 2013 how many claims are yet to be apportioned, before the May deadline?
  • As of 12 March 2013 how many claims are in or awaiting a joint review and is there a projected time frame for completion of all joint reviews?
  • There has been discussion about EQC handing over claims that are indicated at the $75 – $80k settlement. What is your organisation’s position with regard to the handing over/taking over a claim prior to EQC’s determination of reaching the $100k cap?
  • Whose responsibility is it to communicate the following progress to the property owner?
            Apportionment complete
            Joint review complete
            Claim handed over/taken over by private insurer.

9. If EQC and private insurer/s go to court regarding land remediation versus increased foundation costs, what is the financial and timing impact on the resident?

10. Have the CCC responded to the communications audit provided by Felicity Price?

  • As At 12 March 2013, what recommendations have been accepted and what specific actions have been taken for each of the recommendations?
  • What measurable outcomes have been developed, what progress has been made against those outcomes and who has it been reported back to?
  • Specifically: CERA, Community Boards, Elected Members, staff, the public?

11. Is there a legal requirement to follow the guidelines for foundation repair or rebuild on TC3 land?

  • What can a resident do to ensure the viability of their build?
  • Do they have a right to challenge or refuse the guidelines?
  • Can they demand consent exemption and can they clarify what falls under consent?

A meeting is requested with MBIE to discuss this further so we can frame the question to incorporate a large issue.

12. Under what circumstances does EQC require a damage assessment to be completed by a structural engineer when determining apportionment of claims or level of damage?

13. Does EQC accept independent reports? If there is an independent report which differs from an EQC report, what is the process to resolve the differences? Look at both the damage report and repair strategy.

14. If the land is uneconomic to remediate because of the cost of removing the house, what are the obligations of EQC and the insurer? This could include who pays for the removal and reinstatement of the house, costs of the foundation on another site etc. What is the full process and who does what?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

More on the EQC big spread sheet saga

Blogger EQC Truths has responded to the High Court injunction that stops him releasing information from the spread sheet to the  individuals concerned.

His views are here.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Red Zone court decision–the view of the Insurance Council

The Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) issued a media release (dated 5 April) on the interim court decision concerning the Red Zoned Dallington couple. The ICNZ’s view is here, and reproduced below.

There is an error of fact in the ICNZ release, perhaps an accident, a misreading, or an attempt to confuse or mislead.  The fourth paragraph of the ICNZ release states:

The Court also noted that the offer to buy houses in the Red Zone at the 2007 valuation had not been shown to be less than the market value at the time of the earthquakes.

The Court made no such blanket statement. What the judge said related specifically to the property in question. This is from para (b) of the Summary of Findings in the Interim Decision (emphasis added).

In any event, no economic loss to the house was proved to arise from the creation of the red zone, given that the creation was accompanied by a CERA offer to buy the house at the 2007 valuation, which has not been shown to be less than the market value at the time of the earthquakes.

As you can see, the comment about there being no economic loss refers specifically to the O’Loughlan’s house. For the court proceedings a valuation of the property was produced, and it was this that was used to measure whether there had been a loss of value for just that one property. For the full story Section [85] of the interim judgement is the basis for what was said.

Also a little wide of the mark is the final paragraph of the ICNZ media release:

The Insurance Council said it was also useful that the judgment had found that in the event of any rebuild of a property outside of the Red Zone that costs should only be based on the costs of rebuilding on a good site. Further, if a rebuild of a comparable home is required, then it need not be identical to the existing home in terms of the position, dimensions, building design and finish to the previous house.

The information is taken from paragraph (g) of the Summary of Findings.  The Court found this to be the case with regard to Tower, the O’Loughlans, and the specific policy issued by Tower to the O’Loughlans. It is likely to apply to other claims in regard to assessing rebuild costs on good, rather than bad sites (but perhaps not applying to those who have not taken the Crown offer as they still own the land and the rebuild is not hypothetical?). The other issues will be dependent upon the wording of the contracts provided by other insurers, and individual contracts still have to be assessed in the context of the specific policy between the insurer and the property owner. The Court decision does not override these.  It will be interesting to see how individual insurers try to interpret the decision.

Click on the link for the full text of the media release.

Statistics for the uptake of Crown offers for Red Zone land

CERA have published information on how many people accepted Crown offers for their land (or land and house). The details are here, along with links to two maps showing the percentage of take-up in each of the Red Zones where offers expired on Tuesday.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Getting access to the big EQC spread sheet

Remember the spread sheet that was accidently e-mailed out from EQC? Another copy was apparently leaked by an EQC staffer and sent to the blogger known as EQCTruths.

Courtesy of EQCTruths and his/her legal advisers you can now obtain access to your entry on the spread sheet. Read all about it here.

Thank you to the EQC employee who made this available. A brave and decent thing to do.