Koffels Sets Legal Precedent and Wins $3.1 million Claim against NSW Office of Fair Trading

Australian Financial Review

Broadcast:22 August 2009

The owners corporation (body corporate) of an apartment block in Pyrmont, Sydney, has won $3.1 million in damages after setting a precedent for what constitutes systemic default in buildings.

Koffels Solicitors & Barristers made a claim in the Supreme Court of NSW on behalf of the owners’ corporation against the NSW Officer of Fair Trading, which was the statutory insurer for the Harris Street property owners after the builder, Walter Constructions, collapsed.

The claim sought to establish that although some defects, like a leaking bathroom, were not reported in the original insurance notification period, they could be included in the future claims because they were part of widespread, systemic, construction flaws.

Justice Tamberlin found in favour of the claim, which means that once a defect is found to be systemic and provided the original notification was made within the right time, it does not matter when the later notification is made.

Ross Koffel said the outcome would trigger other owners’ corporations to take action, saying “it provides an opportunity to make a claim in systemic default which would not have previously existed”. Strategic Strata Solutions Allan Hoy said there were other buildings in a similar position