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Councils who signed off on leaky buildings could find themselves in the firing line if a planned class action suit goes ahead.

Auckland law firm Adina Thorn Lawyers has funding from a UK-based litigation funder to take a class action against councils that inspected or improved leaky or failed buildings within the last 10 years.

Adina Thorn said the aim was to help building owners who had ended up with council-approved work that now leaked.

Anyone can register who has had involvement with a council over the past 10 years, who has registered with Weathertight Homes Resolution Services, or who is part of an existing claim.

"Our firm's extensive work in the area of defective buildings has uncovered case after case of people, through no fault of his/her own, have found themselves financially compromised by poor quality design or workmanship and have good claims against council," Thorn said.

"They just cannot pursue those claims because of legal and expert costs. This action removes that obstacle."

Building surveyor John Dalton said it was common to find building work that was not up to the required standard.

"Many owners are reluctant to get involved because they see the value of their property being discounted, but the reality is that these problems won't fix themselves and will generally get worse over time.

"It's a particularly tricky issue where buildings have multiple owners because people have different expectations, resources and views on how issues should be addressed and how they should be paid for. There are always the issues of who should be held accountable for the problems and what it will cost to have them held legally liable?

"Clearly the scale of the problem runs to hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars with many property owners naturally asking what value really attaches to a council consent, which is something that takes good money and often considerable effort to secure."

The action will be fully funded, so participants will not have to pay for the legal work involved but the funder will take a share of any damages.

Adina Thorn Lawyers is currently taking a number of class actions including a $250 million funded class action against James Hardie Group companies for the alleged manufacture and marketing of faulty cladding materials and a $40m-plus funded class action against Carter Holt Harvey for the manufacture of Shadowclad cladding.

The firm said the response it received from owners would determine the viability of the claims.


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