Sydney Light Rail Class Action
What is the Sydney Light Rail Class Action about?
In December 2012, the then NSW Minister for Transport introduced a plan titled ‘Sydney’s Light Rail Future’. The plan projected an integrated light rail line built through the Sydney CBD to Kingsford and Randwick via George Street (Project). It was anticipated that the project would be complete by March 2019. Due to significant delays that have occurred, and recent litigation that has been commenced by Acciona, the Spanish company constructing the line, it is now being reported that the new completed date is expected to be March 2020.
The impact of this construction on businesses along the route of the project has been widespread and devastating. The NSW Government and Transport for NSW was aware that the disruption to the operation of Sydney CBD would be significant, and yet, failed to take reasonable steps to prepare for or mitigate the disturbance caused.
The in globo approach to the construction of the light rail has resulted in extended and ongoing consequences to businesses, with many suffering reduced people traffic, inaccessibility, difficulty in meeting their rental obligations and significantly reduced revenue. Landlords are likewise experiencing a significant decrease in the rental viability of their properties, whilst residents have suffered significant psychological impacts as a result of the disruptive construction works. Businesses, landlords and residents can apply to join the class.
What is our claim?
Our class action claims damages for economic loss as well as for psychiatric suffering of business proprietors, landlords, and residents due to private and public nuisance caused by what are alleged to be unreasonable and avoidable acts or omissions of the defendant, Transport for NSW.
It is argued, amongst other things, that the defendant unnecessarily erected barricades along the entirety of the route of the Project rather than in the 31 zones as promised, failed to take reasonable precautions to minimise or reduce avoidable disruptions to group members, and undertook construction works at an unduly slow pace. The consequences of this unreasonable conduct of the defendant were not inevitable consequences of the Project. The NSW Government 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, landlords and residents would be 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 damages 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?
At this stage it is difficult to assess the size of the potential claim, until information regarding the loss is obtained from the members of the class and reviewed. We encourage all members to commence discussions with their accountants, and/or financial advisors in an effort to quantify the loss caused since the commencement of the light rail project. This data will be required in due course, and will 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 Sydney Light Rail Class Action?
There is no financial risk to those seeking to join as a member of the class. The action will be funded by a litigation funder.
Who is the litigation funder?
International Litigation Partners (ILP No. 16 Pte Ltd) are funding this class action at exceptionally competitive rates.
Status of Proceedings
On Tuesday 28 August 2018, a Statement of Claim was filed in the Supreme Court of NSW. Transport for NSW is the defendant.
The first directions hearing was before the Court on 3 October 2018. On that occasion, His Honour Justice Garling directed the Defendant to request particulars of the Plaintiff’s Claim. He also suggested that the Defendant give consideration to whether it sought to join another party to the proceedings as a concurrent wrongdoer.
On 26 October 2018, His Honour Justice Garling granted leave to the Plaintiff to amend the Statement of Claim. This was sought to include material that had arisen through the Parliamentary Inquiry Hearing into the Light Rail. The Amended Statement of Claim was filed on 9 November 2018.
On 3 November 2018, a further directions hearing was held. On that occasion, His Honour Justice Garling ordered that Transport for NSW file a Defence within two weeks. On 23 November 2018, a Defence to the Amended Statement of Claim was filed. On 6 December 2018, a Reply to the Defence was filed by the Plaintiff.
At a directions hearing on 7 December 2018, Transport for NSW advised that they proposed to issue a Cross-Claim against the contractor to the Project, ATLRAC, and its sub-contractor, Acciona.
On 21 December 2018, a Cross Claim was filed against the contractor of the project, the ALTRAC Light Rail Partnership, and its design and construct subcontractor, Acciona Infrastructure Australia. Transport for NSW also sought to file an Amended Defence claiming proportionate liability and filed a motion seeking the Court’s permission to do so.
On 29 April 2019, the Court held that the amended pleadings could be filed however, since that date Transport for NSW has withdrawn its Cross-Claim and proportionate liability defence.
The parties have from 2019 - 2020 engaged in an extensive process of discovery, and various interlocutory proceedings, including in relation to application for a common fund order, opt out notices ordered by the Court, and applications for security for costs by the defendant. Multiple entities have also been subpoenaed to produce documents relevant to the proceedings.
In December 2020, the lead plaintiffs filed their lay evidence in the proceedings. We are also working towards being in a position to file our expert evidence by March 2021.
At this stage, the proceedings have been listed for hearing to commence on 30 August 2021. We hope and expect to conduct a mediation some time before then.
The class remains open for those who have been affected by the construction of the light rail but have not yet joined.
Documents available for download
Documents will to continue to 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