A big money environmental class action appears to be on its way with Tauranga's Holland Beckett teaming up with Auckland environmental law firm North South Environmental Law to sue the owners of the reef-stricken Rena.
The two firms have identified 150 claimants affected by the Rena grounding - and expects to add more in coming weeks. From The Herald:
The claimants, all business owners, will become part of a joint lawsuit to bring proceedings against Greece-based Rena owner Daina Shipping Co.
Individual claims from Bay businesses currently range between $20,000 and $250,000.
The class action is understood to be the biggest negligence-based environmental claim in New Zealand, only outdone in size by class actions against finance and investment companies.
Legal representatives for Daina Shipping Co could not be contacted for comment.
Robert Makgill, an expert in law of the sea and co-director of North South Environmental Law, was approached by a number of Bay of Plenty businesses after Rena hit Astrolabe Reef on October 5 last year.
Mr Makgill told the Bay of Plenty Times that as his list of affected clients grew, he engaged local Tauranga firm HOBEC two months ago, to help with proceedings by being the "face'' of the claim and helping assess claims against Daina Shipping Co.
Holland Beckett Lawyers has now launched an advertising campaign in the Bay of Plenty Times to notify affected businesses of the pending court action.
"This story is not about the lawyers,'' Mr Makgill said.
"It's not about the experts. It's about the businesses. There's so many stories that people need to hear about. A lot of the claims are very strong and I think there's a good chance of success.''
Mr Makgill is also preparing two separate claims against Daina Shipping Co for two iwi, one of which is Ngati Awa, the recognised statutory iwi for Motiti Island.
Source: NZ Herald