Newcastle Light Rail Class Action
What is the Newcastle Light Rail Class Action about?
In August 2016, the Newcastle Light Rail Project was announced, as part of the Newcastle Urban Transformation and Transport Program. The Project introduced a new light rail line set to run from Wickham to Newcastle East, through Hunter Street and Scott Street. Construction commenced on the Newcastle Light Rail in September 2017, and is expected to be completed by 2019. Downer EDI, has been engaged by Transport for NSW as the Managing Contractor to design and build the light rail.
The impact of the construction of the Project on the surrounding businesses has been substantial. Roadworks have entirely blocked access to some businesses, and numerous parking spaces have been removed. Many businesses have suffered and continue to suffer reduced people traffic, inaccessibility, difficulty in meeting their rental obligations and significantly reduced revenue. Some businesses have moved, whilst others have closed as a result of poor turnover arising out of the disruption caused by the construction of the Project. No assistance or compensation has been offered to the affected business owners.
What is our claim?
Our class action will claim damages for pure economic loss suffered by businesses due to, amongst other grounds, the negligence of the defendants, the NSW Government, Transport for NSW and potentially, Downer EDI.
It will be argued, amongst other things, that the defendants were negligent in the management and construction of the Project and failed to take reasonable steps to minimise or reduce disruptions to surrounding businesses. The defendants failed to adequately warn the business owners and to supervise and manage the Project in circumstances where it was reasonably foreseeable and known to them that businesses would be adversely affected.
The claim is likely to run in a two-stage process. The First Stage will be an assessment of whether or not the defendants are liable to the class for the loss suffered. The Second Stage will assess the quantum of damages to be awarded to the class members.
What is the quantum of damages likely to be awarded?
It is difficult, at this stage, to quantify the damages to be awarded. We will, in due course, gather and review information regarding the loss suffered by class members as a result of the Project. We encourage all members to commence discussions with their accountants, and/or financial advisors to quantify the loss caused since the commencement of the Project. This data will then be considered by an expert forensic accountant engaged to calculate the quantum of loss suffered by the members.
Is there any financial risk when joining as a member of the Newcastle Light Rail Class Action?
There is no financial risk to those seeking to join as a member of the class. The action will run on a separately funded basis.
Status of Proceedings
On 11 August 2018 a team from Mitry Lawyers, together with Angela Vithoulkas, the leader of the Small Business Party, made the trip to Newcastle to meet with potential class members. At that meeting, Angela and Richard Mitry addressed the members and fielded questions. Many of the members signed up on that day.
Since that date, there has been extensive investigation and research work done by the legal team, including a barrister and Senior Counsel. Experts have provided evidence, and pursuant to our application under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (GIPA) documents pertaining to the construction of the Newcastle light rail that are not publicly available have been obtained from Transport for NSW.
We are currently in the process of finalising the Statement of Claim to launch the proceedings.
The class is still open to anyone who has suffered damages as a result of the construction of the Newcastle Light Rail and has not yet joined.
Documents available for download
Documents and updates will be uploaded here as they become available.
Rick Mitry | Partner | or +61 2 9283 9035
Richard Mitry | Partner | or +61 2 9283 9035
Amanda Charchar | Solicitor | or on +61 2 9283 9035