GLADSTONE PORT DREDGING – CLASS ACTION

By 21 February, 2019Fishing

Overview Video on who is eligible

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Update on the Court Case

The Court Case has moved a fair way since our update in July.  GPC filed its “Defence” to our claims in early September and there followed some arguments about the various court papers from both sides.

We are now starting on “disclosure”, which is the process requiring the lead plaintiffs to produce their relevant documents to GPC, and GPC to produce its relevant documents to us.  We expect it will take until at least April next year for each side to find and process its own documents, and then review the documents from the other side.  Obviously this will give us real insight into what was going on within GPC during the dredging and Bund-filling work.

In addition to “disclosure”, we served subpoenas for documents on the DAF for its industry-wide catch data, on GPC’s water-monitoring contractor (Vision Environment) for water quality records, and on the ABC for TV footage of the Port works underway.  We have received the DAF data and it is being reviewed.  We expect to get the Vision and ABC material shortly.

Your records

Separate from the process of preparing the case for trial, we need to collect our clients’ individual records to help estimate the total size of the claim (and the size of individual claims) in the hope of negotiating a settlement with GPC rather than go to trial.

For that reason, all our clients will be contacted in the next few weeks by Law Essentials and our staff.  We need to collect various records relating to your individual losses, and also get signed permissions from you to obtain other records from your accountants.

It is very important that you not discard any records relating to your businesses.  It is possible that we might need them in order to establish your loss and damage in the Court Case.

Funding agreement

Before the Court Case started we expected that the litigation funder who would front all of the legal costs in this matter would be a company who ultimately decided not to assist us.  We then secured litigation funding from another company, LCM.

Because of that change, we need our clients to sign replacement “retainers” with us, and a replacement “funding agreement” with LCM.  Law Essentials will speak to you about that when they contact you to get your loss records.

Who’s covered by the Court Case

We hear there are still rumours about who is or isn’t covered by the Court Case.  It is not just for “fishermen”.  It covers licence holders, skippers and crews who worked in defined DAF grids, and processors and fish transport operators, and wholesalers.  In short, if your business handled fish, scallop, crab or prawn meat then you are probably covered by the Court Case.

Also note that the ‘Affected Waters’ in respect of the claim has increased, which means that anyone that caught prawns, scallop and bugs south of Fraser Island in grids W33, W34, W35, W36 may also be covered by the Court Case.

To be absolutely clear about this, the actual “group definition” in the Court Case makes clear that the case is brought on behalf of the three named plaintiffs and everyone in any of the three following “subgroups”:

(1)          Commercial Fishing Group Members: being those persons that:

(a)       for at least some period, from around 6 September 2011 to date;

(b)       generated income as the licensee of, or owner, operator or profit-sharing skipper, or profit-sharing crew member on a fishing boat under a commercial fishing license; and

(c)       did fish for commercially saleable fish including (but not limited to) scallops, bugs and prawns (harbour and ocean), mudcrab and other crabs, queenfish, barramundi, catfish, mullet, sole, bream, herring, whiting, salmon, coral trout, trevally, shark and mackerel in the grids in (i) below, and/or did fish for commercially saleable fish including (but not limited to) scallops, bugs and prawns in the grids in (ii) below:

(i)     (north of Fraser Island up to Yeppoon) R28, R29, S28, S29, S30, T28, T29, T30, T31, U30, U31, U32, V30, V31, V32, V33, W31 and W32; and/or

(ii)    (south of Fraser Island) W33, W34, W35, W36

(i.e. together the defined ‘Affected Waters’ in the Court Case)

(NB. This includes coral trout that was damaged or perished when brought into the Affected Waters).

(2)          Fish Handling Group Members: being those persons that:

(a)       for at least some period, from around 6 September 2011 to date;

(b)       conducted business in  the processing (including cleaning, packaging, freezing, storage and transportation) of fish caught by the Commercial Fishing Group Members (as above) in the Affected Waters (as above).

(3)          Wholesaler Group Members: being those persons that:

(a)       for at least some period, from around 6 September 2011 to date;

(b)       conducted business with operations in Queensland, or New South Wales, or both, purchasing fish for wholesale, as caught in the Affected Waters (as above), from either the Commercial Group Members (as above) or the Fish Handling Group Members (as above).

 Other matters

Please remember that our communications to you and the other claimants are covered by legal privilege and are confidential.  It is very important that you not disclose information from us to anyone except other claimants, or your private legal or financial advisors.  Please respect this, in the interests of all the claimants.

 PLEASE NOTE:-

The part highlighted in yellow above, namely:-

 did fish for commercially saleable fish including (but not limited to) scallops, bugs and prawns in the grids in (ii) below:

(ii) (south of Fraser Island) W33, W34, W35, W36

This means that the claim has extended to also include Trawlers who trawl from the top of Fraser Island, right down to Bribie Island in W33 – including whether they trawled for scallops or prawns.  We also need these people to sign up to make their claim.

Contact our office to get the documents to sign if you want to bring a claim.

Regards,

CHRIS THOMPSON | Director/Solicitor

 07-4197 5600

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