Ministry of Education pursues Carter Holt Harvey over leaky schools

Nikki Kaye

The New Zealand Ministry of Education will continue to pursue a leaky schools lawsuit against Carter Holt Harvey after the wood company owned by Graeme Hart's Rank Group failed in an attempt to have the claim quashed.

The claim concerns CHH's supply of faulty wall cladding material used in New Zealand schools. CHH failed to have the ministry's product liability claim struck off in the High Court last week, associate education minister Nikki Kaye said in a statement.

The ministry filed the proceedings last year as it embarked on a remediation programme on 800 buildings across more than 300 schools, with an estimated cost of some $1.5 billion.

The government has settled more than 40 claims relating to leaky buildings and the ministry was the first government agency to lodge a major product liability claim. It has reached out of court settlements with Australian manufacturers James Hardie and CSR Building Products.

Specific details of the settlements and ongoing legal action are confidential and have not been revealed, Kaye said.

The ministry's continued legal action comes after CHH was order to pay $1.85 million by the High Court for price fixing in the Auckland commercial timber market, where it had entered into an understanding with Fletcher Building's distribution arm in late 2012 to fix prices for the supply of structural timber to commercial customers in Auckland.

Fletcher's distribution arm Placemakers was granted immunity after it discovered its involvement in the price fixing last year, told the Commerce Commission and cooperated with the investigation.

(BusinessDesk)

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