High Court orders costs against EQC and Southern Response

Yet again the High Court (Davidson J) has ordered EQC and Southern Response to pay costs to homeowners where both paid money after being sued in excess of what each had offered before being sued late 2013.  In Zygadlo v EQC & Southern Response [2016] NZHC 1699 the High Court ordered EQC to pay $12,210.27 in costs and SR $45,291.56.  EQC paid $159,626.71 in August 2015 and SR paid a further $340,000 in March 2016 to remediate the house damage.  EQC asked the Court to order that the homeowners pay it $21,350.47 because they had changed expert witnesses and delayed the proceeding.  They also said that the Court could not make a costs order because a litigation funder had paid the costs and not the homeowners.  This argument failed.  SR asked the Court to order the homeowner to pay it costs of $78,741.75 because the homeowner did not receive the total amount asked for, the increased amount paid by SR came from its internal reassessments- not the litigation, and the delay by the owner’s experts.  EQC and SR failed in their arguments to receive a costs award, however, the Court did reduce some costs/disbursements associated with the delays and changes in engineering witnesses.  The judgment is notable that it ordered EQC to pay 2/3rds and SR 1/3rds of the costs before EQC paid cap.  This judgment is further vindication of the benefits of suing.  The owners were about $380,000 better off by suing.