22 Sep 2020

Southern Response not appealing court decision on Dodds' earthquake insurance case

4:17 pm on 22 September 2020

The government has decided not to appeal a landmark court case that requires it to pay a Christchurch couple more than $180,000.

Watch Megan Woods react to National's border policy and the Southern Response case decision:

Karl and Alison Dodds say they were tricked into accepting a lower offer from Southern Response, only to later discover the insurer had kept secret from them a second higher estimate to rebuild their damaged house.

The government is facing similar cases which could end up costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

The minister responsible for Southern Response, Grant Robertson, says while the Dodds will be paid out straight away, no decision will be made regarding the other cases until after the election.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods says she is pleased the process has now concluded for the couple.

She said the government initially decided to appeal the decision because it was seeking clarity on some questions of law.

"My fellow minister responsible for Southern Response and I met with the Dodds prior to us making that decision and explained why we were taking the appeal that we did, and that was to clarify those points of law. Those points of law have now been clarified and we want the Dodds to be able to get on with their lives and move onto the next phase."

Woods said she called the Dodds personally to tell them that the government would not be appealing.

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Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

"This is a couple that have had a very difficult period of time and I wanted to tell them myself the decision, I certainly didn't want them to hear it through the media.

"I reiterated what we told them when we met with them several months ago, that we were very sorry for what they had been put through and the very difficult period of time where they just haven't been able to get on with their lives."

Woods said she could not comment on how much other cases could potentially cost the government saying the matter was currently before the courts.

Asked whether there should be an inquiry into Southern Response, Woods said the government launched an inquiry into the Earthquake Commission because it was an enduring entity that would be needed again.

But she said Southern Response differed because once these earthquake claims were paid out, it would no longer exist.

In her media conference today, Woods also commented about the National Party's border security policy that was revealed today.

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