Manus Island Class Action Settlement
The distribution process for the Manus Island Class Action Settlement Distribution Scheme has now successfully been completed and the proceeding was concluded on 6 July 2018, approximately nine months after the settlement of the litigation was approved by the Supreme Court of Victoria.
On 6 September 2017, the Supreme Court of Victoria approved the $70 million settlement of the Manus Island class action. As a part of that process, the Court approved a Settlement Distribution Scheme (‘the Scheme’), which is a document that sets out the steps, procedures and powers involved in distributing the settlement funds to group members.
Following approval of the settlement by the Court, Slater and Gordon worked to administer and implement the Scheme. Our role was to apply the terms of the Scheme to obtain information and instructions from group members, finalise payment amounts and distribute those amounts to each participating group member. Throughout its operation the Scheme remained supervised by the Supreme Court.
Over the course of the Scheme, the team at Slater and Gordon has worked to distribute the $70 million (plus interest) to 1,693 group members in the proceeding who registered to participate in the settlement. This involved a complex process of making a significant number of payments to group members (both domestically and internationally), communicating with the group in 22 different languages, across 39 countries, and included approximately 178,000 pieces of correspondence between Slater and Gordon and group members.
Payments began to be made in December 2017, approximately three months after the settlement was approved by the Court, and all payments were completed by the end of June 2018.
For a case of this size and complexity, this represents one of the fastest and most efficient settlement distribution processes ever.
The completion of all payments also marks the completion of the Manus Island class action itself. In many respects this has been a novel and groundbreaking case, providing representation and assistance to the people who have been detained at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, and resulting in the largest settlement in a human rights case in Australian legal history.
Slater and Gordon is proud to have undertaken this work, to ensure that group members who wished to participate in the settlement were able to safely and reliably receive the benefits of the Manus Island class action and that their experiences are recognised by Australian law.