EQC's annual legal costs still increasing, seven years on from Canterbury quakes
The Earthquake Commission's (EQC) yearly legal spend continues to grow as Canterbury earthquake court cases keep rolling in.
Its chief executive is confident the numbers will drop as the commission changes its approach to settling remaining claims.
The Government's natural disaster agency spent $8.2 million ($9.5m with GST included) on legal fees in 2017. It spent about $7.5m in 2016 and about $6.15m in 2015.
The figures refer to spending across the whole organisation, but EQC does not believe there would be much difference in the figures if costs not related to Canterbury quake-related expenses were separated out.
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EQC has 316 claims currently in litigation, of which 257 are with the High Court. There are 58 going through District Court, and one with the Court of Appeal.
Anthony Harper Lawyers partner Peter Woods was not surprised only eight cases went before the courts. He said often homeowners were suing both EQC and their insurer, and generally EQC would settle as the claim was likely to go over its liability cap of $100,000 plus GST.
"If you've got a claim and you're saying 'hey look, my foundations are stuffed and my house is a rebuild', then you're well over the cap."
Woods said once someone sued EQC, they were in a different process, which he thought meant EQC would put more focus on the claim to try and resolve the legal proceeding.
"The main problem people have is just trying to make some progress with EQC and the insurers, particularly for the remedial claims."