The Supreme Court has today upheld the Ministry of Education’s position in its case against Carter Holt Harvey over leaky school buildings.
In 2013, the Ministry started legal proceedings, on behalf of schools, against Carter Holt Harvey and others, alleging the supply of defective building products.
Education Minister Hekia Parata described today's judgement as "a major victory for New Zealand taxpayers". She said that remedying the leaky school building problem has an estimated total cost of at least $1.3 billion.
"Today’s decision means a significant contribution to these costs can now be sought,” she said.
“This is the largest product liability claim ever made in New Zealand. Action was taken to protect the Crown’s significant investment in education infrastructure, and to promote better building practices in the future.
“It’s vital we do everything we can to ensure children learn in modern, comfortable environments that inspire them to succeed."
Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye said the Ministry plans to proceed to trial but remains open to settlement discussions with Carter Holt Harvey.
“We’ve felt strongly about this issue because of the disruption caused to so many schools, students and staff, as well as the costly remediation programme.
“The Ministry has already repaired school buildings at greatest risk of weathertightness failure and is now targeting buildings of medium to low risk. We are five years through a significant programme that has involved fixing huge numbers of schools."
The Ministry of Education is the first Government agency to lodge a major product liability claim and has previously reached successful, out-of-court, confidential agreements with major manufacturer James Hardie, and CSR Building Products Ltd.