10 Year Time Limit Starts from Issue of CC
A Supreme Court decision has cleared the way for hundreds of leaky home owners to reclaim for compensation after having their cases dismissed.
Remuera couple John and Helen Osborne are celebrating a "victory for commonsense" after fighting an eight-year battle to get compensation for the cost of rebuilding their leaky home.
The couple bought a leaky home in 1997 but did not realise the full extent of the problems until 2006.
The pair filed a claim with the Weathertight Homes Tribunal in 2007, only to be told they were not eligible for compensation because their claim was lodged after the statutory 10-year time limit for when the house was built.
The couple argued that the 10-year limitation on claims should start not when a building is physically finished, but later, when the building work is issued the final code compliance certificate by the council.
The pair fought the decision in the High Court and Court of Appeal, failing both times, before taking their fight to the Supreme Court, the country's final court of appeal.
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court on Tuesday handed down a ruling in favour of the Osbornes.
"There is a declaration that the Osbornes' claim is eligible," states the judgment, which also offers the couple compensation for all three of their court cases.
Auckland Council will not comment on the decision until it has considered the full judgement.
The decision is being heralded a "victory for commonsense" by the Osbornes' lawyer Tim Rainey.
"It's great to see a straight-forward, commonsense approach adopted by the Supreme Court, something that we thought should have been adopted much earlier, but we're very grateful it's finally happened," Mr Rainey told NZ Newswire.
He said the test case would have huge implications for the other 369 leaky home owners who have had their cases rejected on similar grounds.
He estimates the value of their claims at $80m to $90m, "and potentially much, much more".
The Osbornes themselves accepted an out-of-court settlement from Auckland Council following last year's Supreme Court hearing.
That settlement was conditional on the Supreme Court not handing down a ruling on the case, and is therefore now void, but Mr Rainey said he's confident the council will still pay.
Tamara McLean, TV3 News, 10 June 2014