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James Hardie class action ends with no compensation for homeowners

A $220m class action against building giant James Hardie has ended, with no compensation for homeowners.

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A $220 million class action from over 1000 homeowners was filed against building giant James Hardie has ended with no compensation to homeowners. Source: 1 NEWS

More than 1000 homeowners were seeking compensation from the company, alleging it knowingly sold them defective cladding known as Harditex.

There were 376 properties involved in the class action.

Lawyers for both the homeowners and James Hardie were progressing through a 17-week trial at the High Court in Auckland, when proceedings abruptly stopped.

Today, it was announced that the parties had reached a settlement - but there would be no compensation for homeowners.

Instead, James Hardie would receive $1.25m following the settlement, there would be no admission of liability, and the case would be discontinued in its entirety.

While lawyers for the plaintiffs said the circumstances around the settlement were "confidential", 1 NEWS understands the settlement came after the London-based litigation funder, Harbour Litigation Funding, said it would end its funding of the case.

“After approximately six years of strongly contested court proceedings, involving over 1,000 plaintiffs and numerous highly qualified experts, this is obviously a disappointing outcome halfway through the trial on liability," said the homeowners’ lawyer, Adina Thorn.

While the homeowners would not get any compensation, they would also not incur any costs for being involved in the class action.

Source: 1 NEWS

"High Court litigation is often complex, costly and comes with inherent risks. The settlement reflects these realities," said Thorn.

One of the homeowners, Noel Hayman, owned a 10-unit hotel and two-storey home complex and claimed Harditex cladding caused leaks, costing them $600,000.

"The cost to us was just under $600,000 plus there was loss of income to the motel lessee over the two-year repair period," he said.

"Some compensation would have been much appreciated – but the settlement represented a necessary compromise."

Meanwhile James Hardie welcomed the settlement.

“While we are happy with this outcome, and believe the settlement supports our continued belief that the allegations lacked merit and we behaved as a responsible manufacturer, we remain very sympathetic to homeowners negatively impacted by weathertightness issues,” said James Hardie's John Arneil.