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The Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal Bill is underwhelming and doesn’t provide any substantive relief for people with outstanding EQC claims, National’s EQC spokesperson Stuart Smith says.

“Justice Minister Andrew Little confirmed in Parliament’s Question Time today that the bill fails to offer anything different to what is already available to people with outstanding EQC claims.

“The Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal can only decide on simple cases which are not already before the courts, ruling out a vast majority of EQC claims.

“Surprisingly, the Tribunal also has the power to transfer cases to the court if they are too complicated or entirely new to the system. This means the Tribunal has limited powers to make its own decisions and can easily palm cases back to the District Court or High Court.

“The reality is we have 3,600 claims which are still outstanding from the Christchurch Earthquakes, and the vast majority of these are incredibly complex.

“How is a Tribunal supposed to solve these if they are required to transfer complex claims to the courts? This is not ‘speedy, flexible and cost-effective’ as the Government claims.

“What the Government has presented to us is essentially a double up of the existing court structure. Experts and lawyers will be stuck between the Courts and the Tribunal which will only slow things down even more.

“One issue which has dominated headlines is on-sold homes, yet the Government has specifically excluded anyone bringing a claim relating to one of these properties. These people deserve answers, and again we see big promises from the Government, but they have failed to come up with the goods.

“This Tribunal will not be up and running for another year, meaning it has taken this Government over 18 months to get anything started. It’s time they stopped playing games and rolled up their sleeves.”

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