Commercial property owners join leaky homes lawsuit against James Hardie

The owners of 22 business units are suing the building products company James Hardie for negligence and breach of the Fair Trading Act over its Titanboard product, which was used in commercial buildings from the mid-1990s. They're to join a leaky homes lawsuit being brought by the law firm Parker & Associates.

The law firm say 80 owners of properties clad with James Hardie's Harditex or Titanboard material have now joined the legal action, ahead of a potential deadline at the end of the year. From Dec 31 there is a bar on claims being submitted based on work which was done more than 15 years ago.

When the class action was first announced in August, James Hardie said it would "vigorously defend any allegations made against its products".

Parker & Associates suit is the second 'leaky home' class action to be launched this year after Adina Thorn Lawyers launched a case against plaster cladding manufacturers.

New Zealand has yet to develop legislation for class actions, with representative suits evolving through court rules rather than legislation and leaving a lack of clarity around some of the procedural rules, which can lead to protracted litigation.