Southern Response Unresolved Claims Group (Group) sought to bring a representative claim against Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd (Southern) for breach of contract under insurance policies.

The Group claimed that Southern was in breach of insurance policies between itself and individual Group members.  In applying to have their individual disputes heard in a representative action, the Group claimed it had a common interest based on (a) the fact that the Group members all had the same or similar policies with Southern, (b) they had endured the same damaging causing event and (c) were each subject to the same contractual breaches by Southern.

In considering the application, Mander J stated that the overarching consideration for the Court was the need for a just, speedy and inexpensive determination of proceedings.  His Honour also stated that it was necessary to identify a central, common issue that unites individual claimants.  It is not necessary that all issues arising from Group members’ claims be common between them.  However, a group must identify the core or predominant and overriding question or questions in dispute between the parties.

His Honour held that the Group had not sufficiently identified a common issue or "spine” of the representative action. The circumstances of the individual Group members were too varied and the issues present in each of their disputes too different to found a successful claim for a representative action.

On that basis the application for a representative action was declined.

See Court decision here.