BI class action notices to be sent out next year
Notices inviting policyholders to register their interest in business interruption class actions triggered by pandemic disruptions will be sent out by early February following preliminary Federal Court hearings to approve the process.
Class actions against Lloyd’s and QBE have been filed by Gordon Legal, while Slater & Gordon has filed against IAG’s Insurance Australia and Hollard.
The Federal Court orders say notices should be distributed to businesses that held relevant policies by February 9 and that the policyholders must register by March 15.
Gordon Legal Partner James Naughton says it’s likely a significant number of people still have not lodged claims and may not be aware that the class actions exist and the finalising of the communication to policyholders is an important milestone.
“This notice will be the first opportunity for those people to be told what their rights are in a communication approved by the court,” he said. “This is also a very important and positive step for the class actions, in our opinion.”
The court is yet to make a final decision on whether the actions should be “de-classed”, as sought by insurers, with Justice Michael Lee awaiting the level of response and registrations.
The notice to be sent out says it has been issued to enable the court to determine how many class members may want to participate in the class action.
“If an insufficient number of eligible people register their interest in the class action, there is a chance that the court will decide that the class action cannot go ahead,” it says, while advising that the policyholder can still make a claim directly with the insurer.
Mr Naughton says it’s Gordon Legal’s view that it’s vitally important for group members to register their interest when the notice from the court comes through to them, so the class actions will continue to gain momentum.
The class action matters will be listed for a further case management hearing on April 24.
The actions filed are Cody Gemtec Retail t/as the National Opal Collection v the underwriting members of Syndicate 2003 at Lloyd's; Strand Fitness & ors v QBE; CMC Hospitality v Insurance Australia; and Vicki Field Swim School v Hollard.