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Manus Island Class Action

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Notice to Group Members

SUPREME COURT OF VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA

MANUS ISLAND CLASS ACTION

 

1. What is this notice about?

In December 2014, a group proceeding (the “Manus Island class action”) was commenced in the Supreme Court of Victoria arising out of alleged failures to take reasonable care of people held at the “Manus Island Regional Processing Centre” (“the Centre”). The Manus Island class action is brought by Mr Majid Karami Kamasaee (the “Plaintiff”) against the Commonwealth of Australia, G4S Australia Pty Ltd and Broadspectrum (Australia) Pty Ltd (the “Defendants”).

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Victoria ordered that a notice be published regarding the commencement of the Manus Island class action (the “Previous Notice”). If you require a copy of the Previous Notice, you may access it via the Slater and Gordon website at http://www.slatergordon.com.au/class-actions/current-class-actions/manus.

The Manus Island class action has recently been amended to include additional allegations that the Defendants falsely imprisoned any person who was held at the Centre at any time between 21 November 2012 and 12 May 2016 (the “Detainees”).

The Supreme Court of Victoria has ordered that this notice be published for the information of persons who may be affected by the action.  You might be a group member.  You should read this notice carefully.  Any questions you have concerning the matters contained in this notice should not be directed to the Court.  If there is anything in it that you do not understand, you should seek legal advice.

If you require a copy of this notice that has been translated into another language, you can request one from the Centre management, or by contacting the law firm Slater and Gordon using the contact details at paragraph 12 below.

 

2. What has changed?

Since it was commenced, the Manus Island class action has involved allegations that the Defendants were negligent in relation to the provision of:

  1. food and water;
  2. accommodation;
  3. healthcare services; and
  4. security

to persons held at the Centre between 21 November 2012 and 19 December 2014. It is alleged that a number of Detainees (the “Negligence Group Members”) suffered injuries because of this negligence.

On 1 August 2016, the Plaintiff filed an amended statement of claim which included an additional allegation that the Defendants had falsely imprisoned the Detainees at the Centre. This allegation is made on behalf of all persons who were held at the Centre between 21 November 2012 and 12 May 2016 (the “False Imprisonment Group Members”). If you were held at the Centre at any time between these dates, you may be affected by the class action.

The allegations of false imprisonment cover a longer time period than the allegations of negligence. In addition, you do not need to have suffered any particular injury to fall within the False Imprisonment Group Member definition. It is sufficient that you have been held at the Centre during the relevant period. Therefore, even if you were not previously affected by the Manus Island class action, you may now be a group member in this proceeding.

 

3. The Australian legal system

Australia’s legal system allows a person (called a plaintiff) to make a claim for financial compensation against another person, or company or government (called a defendant) if the plaintiff believes he or she has suffered an injury or loss because of the defendant’s conduct and if there is a proper basis for the claim(s).  

All courts in Australia are independent of the government.  The courts have clear rules for the procedures they follow.  These include rules for preparing evidence and for applying legal principles to that evidence in order to decide the case according to law.

 

4. What is a class action?

A class action is an action that is brought by one person (called the plaintiff) on his or her own behalf and on behalf of a group of people (“group members”) against another person or persons (called the defendant/s) where the plaintiff and the group members have similar claims against the defendant/s. 

Group members in a class action are not individually responsible for the legal costs associated with bringing the class action.  In a class action, only the plaintiff is responsible for the costs.

Group members are bound by any judgment or settlement entered into in the class action unless they have opted out of the proceeding.  This means that:

  1. if the class action is successful, group members may be eligible for a share of any settlement monies or Court-awarded damages;
  2. if the class action is unsuccessful, group members are bound by that result; and
  3. regardless of the outcome of the class action, group members may not be able to pursue their claims against the Defendants in separate legal proceedings unless they have opted out. 

 

5. Are you a group member?

You are a False Imprisonment Group Member if at any time during the period 21 November 2012 to 12 May 2016 you were confined at the Centre by or on behalf of any of the Defendants.

You are also a Negligence Group Member if at any time during the period 21 November 2012 until 19 December 2014 you:

  1. were detained by or on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia pursuant to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) and transferred to the Centre;
  2. suffered personal injury (physical and/or mental harm) because of any Defendant’s failure to take reasonable care in providing adequate food and water, accommodation, healthcare, internal security and/or external security; and
  3. have not opted out of the proceedings by completing the ‘Notice of opting out by group member’ that was attached the Previous Notice, and returned this document to the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Victoria prior to 15 January 2016

If you are unsure whether or not you are a group member, you should contact Slater and Gordon on 0011 61 3 9602 6807 or email manus@slatergordon.com.au or seek your own legal advice without delay.

 

6. What does it mean to Opt Out?

The plaintiff in a class action does not need to seek the consent of group members to commence a class action on their behalf or to identify a specific group member.

However, group members can choose not to be group members by opting out of the class action.  An explanation of how group members are able to opt out is found below at paragraph 10, headed “How can you opt out of the class action?”.

 

7. What if you have previously submitted a ‘Notice of opting out by group member’?

If you completed the ‘Notice of opting out by group member’ that was attached the Previous Notice, and returned this document to the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Victoria prior to 15 January 2016, you will be taken not to be a Negligence Group Member, as you will have opted out of the negligence claim being pursued by the plaintiff.

However, even if you have completed the Notice of opting out by a group member’ and are no longer a Negligence Group Member you may remain a False Imprisonment Group Member, If you also wish to opt out of the false imprisonment claim, please follow the steps set out in section 10 below. If you are uncertain whether you have previously opted out of this proceeding, or have any questions about your status in the proceeding, please contact Slater and Gordon using the details below to discuss your options.

 

8. What will happen if you choose to remain a group member?

Unless you opt out, you will be bound by the outcome of the class action.  If the class action is successful, you may be entitled to share in the benefit of any order, judgment or settlement in favour of the Plaintiff and group members.  If the action is unsuccessful or is not as successful as you might have wished, you may not be able to bring the same claim on your own in new proceedings.

 

9. Will you be liable for legal costs?

You will not become liable for any legal costs simply by remaining as a group member for the determination of the common questions.  However:

  1. if your personal claim requires work to be done in relation to issues that are specific to your claim, Slater and Gordon or other lawyers can do that work for you.  A copy of the terms on which Slater and Gordon are acting in the class action may be obtained from them using the contact details provided below;
  2. if any compensation becomes payable to you as a result of any order, judgment or settlement in the class action, the Court may make an order that some of that compensation be used to help pay a share of the costs; and
  3. class actions are often settled out of court.  If this occurs in the class action, you may be able to claim from the settlement amount without a lawyer.

 

10. How can you opt out of the class action?

If you do not wish to remain a group member you must opt out of the class action. If you opt out you will not be bound by or entitled to share in the benefit of any order, judgement or settlement in the class action, but you may be at liberty to bring your own claim against the Defendants., If you wish to bring your own claim against the Defendants, you should seek your own legal advice about your claim and the applicable time limit prior to opting out.

If you do wish to opt out of the class action you must do so by completing a ‘Notice of opting out by group member’ in the form shown below (Form 18AB).  You must then return it to the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Victoria at 436 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia.  IMPORTANT: the Notice of opting out by group member must reach the Prothonotary by no later than 11 November 2016, otherwise it will not be effective.

You should submit the Notice of opting out by group member if you qualify as a group member and you wish to opt out of the class action.

Each group member should fill out a separate form.

 

11. How can you remain a group member?

If you wish to remain a group member there is nothing you need to do at the present time.  The Plaintiff will continue to bring the proceeding on your behalf up to the point where the Court deems appropriate. However, you are invited to contact the Plaintiff’s lawyers, Slater and Gordon, using the contact details provided below and register as a group member so that future notices about the class action can be sent to your preferred address.

 

12. Where can you obtain copies of relevant documents?

Copies of relevant documents, including the Previous Notice, the statement of claim and any amended versions, and the defences which may be filed in the future, may be obtained by:

  1. inspecting them on the Supreme Court of Victoria website for this proceeding: http://www.supremecourt.vic.gov.au/ or by contacting the Class Actions Coordinator by email at scvclassactions@supremecourt.vic.gov.au; or
  2. inspecting them on the Slater and Gordon website http://www.slatergordon.com.au/class-actions/current-class-actions/manus or by contacting Slater and Gordon via their website  http://www.slatergordon.com.au, by calling 0011 61 3 9602 6807, or by emailing manus@slatergordon.com.au.

Please consider the above matters carefully.  If there is anything of which you are unsure, you should contact Slater and Gordon on 0011 61 3 9602 6807 or email manus@slatergordon.com.au or seek your own legal advice.

 

Form 18AB – Notice of Opting Out by Group Members

Download or view the Form 18AB – Notice of Opting Out by Group Members here