While the Commission of Inquiry has found that the Wivenhoe Dam was operated in breach of its manual for part of the flood period in January 2011, the report has also made a number of other conclusions that may pose significant hurdles for any legal action, according to national law firm Slater and Gordon.
General Manager of Commercial and Project Litigation at Slater and Gordon, James Higgins, said the firm would continue to review the report in light of its conclusions.
“There is no need to jump into talk of extensive legal action until the report has been reviewed in its entirety,” Mr Higgins said.
“Given the length and complexity of the report, and the substantial work conducted by the Commission in preparing it, it is only appropriate to consider the report fully before forming any conclusions about potential legal action,” he said.
“A further complication, as an outcome of today’s report, is the referral of the dam’s engineers to the CMC. This referral has the potential to prevent any civil proceedings progressing until the conclusion of a potential criminal trial.”
“We will review the report thoroughly and make a further statement once this has been done.”
Mr Higgins said any legal action would depend on the response of the Queensland Government.
“Any opportunity to spare people from prolonged or expensive litigation is welcomed by Slater and Gordon.”
“The best outcome for devastated residents and their families would be a speedy resolution so that those affected can start getting their lives back on track.
“The Queensland Government should look to the ways that compensation could be provided to assist those affected as a direct result of the fact that the dam was operated in breach of its manual.”
Slater and Gordon has been investigating legal action arising from breaches of the Wivenhoe Dam manual by the operators of the dam since the release of the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry interim report in August last year.