2011 Brisbane Floods Class Action Closed

More than 6,000 residents and businesses that were affected by Brisbane River flooding in 2011 mounted a class action against the Queensland Government and Sunwater and SEQWater who own and operate Sommerset and Wivenhoe dams respectively. The NSW Supreme Court found that the dam owners and operators were negligent in their operation of the dams and caused incremental flooding to the properties. The Queensland Government and Sunwater negotiated a $460 million settlement of its liability. SEQWater on the other hand appealed the decision and the appeal was upheld. The High Court of Australia did not give the plaintiffs leave to review the Appeals Court decision.

While the appeal was being heard, a separate judicial review was taking place to determine how incremental damage caused by the dam operations should be calculated so that a fair compensation could be calculated for the flooded property and business owners. While there were some records of the damage caused by the actual flooding, the challenge was estimating what that damage would have been if the dams had been operated differently and how that could be reasonably estimated for 6,000 diverse premises. Molino Stewart was engaged by SEQWater to critique the methods proposed by the appellants and offer an alternative methodology. The Molino Stewart report was used as evidence in the judicial review which was not concluded because the separate appeal process made it redundant.