, ,

Southern Response- Misleading Conduct


Southern Response (formerly AMI Insurance) had a practice of maintaining duplicate remedial costings for earthquake damaged houses.  A “customer” version and an “office” version.  The “customer” version did not include demolition, professional fees and contingency.  The “office” version included these costings.  Southern Response concealed the “office” version with the effect that many people settled their insurance claim for less than their entitlement.  Rick and Anna Groen sued Southern Response in the High Court claiming breaches of the Fair Trading Act and duty of good faith.  The High Court in Groen v Southern Response [2018] NZHC 1025 recently considered the status of the legal advice Southern Response received in the context of witness statements and an upcoming trial.  The judgment contains a good summary of the issues.  The Court decided that Southern Response could edit witness statements and statement of defence to remove reference to legal advice, but if at trial it tried to rely on the legal advice for its conduct then it would waive privilege over the advice and must provide the advice.  There are likely thousands of people in the same situation as the Groens that also have claims against Southern Response.