Slater and Gordon is representing residents and property owners who have obtained compensation for the destructive bushfire in the Perth Hills in January 2014. The High Court will hear an application to appeal the proceeding on 17 March 2022.
In 2015, Slater and Gordon commenced a proceeding in the Supreme Court of Western Australia against Western Power, its contractor Ventia (formerly Thiess) and a private landowner, on behalf of 189 residents and property owners affected by the destructive bushfire in the Perth Hills area in January 2014. The blaze tore through hundreds of hectares of bush, destroying 57 homes and damaging many more.
The fire started when a wooden power pole located on private property, which had been damaged by termites and fungal rot, fell and ignited ground vegetation. In July 2013, Western Power had engaged contractors, Ventia, to conduct works on the rotten pole and replace the adjacent pole. Ventia’s line crew inspected the rotten pole but did not detect that it was extensively damaged by termites and fungal rot.
In 2019, the Supreme Court found Ventia and the landowner liable, however Western Power escaped liability. The plaintiffs appealed this decision to the Western Australian Court of Appeal, who agreed with the plaintiffs and found that Western Power was liable in negligence for failing to have a system of periodic inspection of “point of attachment” poles which, although privately owned, support Western Power’s cables and to which meters measuring electricity consumption are attached. The Court of Appeal determined that Western Power was liable for 50% of the loss suffered by the plaintiffs, along with Ventia and the landowner who were 35% and 15% responsible, respectively. You can access a copy of the Court of Appeal’s decision here.
Western Power has since applied for special leave to appeal the Court of Appeal decision in the High Court. The application for special leave has been listed for a hearing on 17 March 2022.