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WestConnex project target of class action

The $16 billion WestConnex project is being investigated for a possible class action, after allegedly damaging tens of thousands of Sydney homes.

user iconLauren Croft 27 September 2022 Big Law
WestConnex project target of class action
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Dentons is investigating a potential class action on behalf of over 65,000 residents whose homes have been impacted by land subsistence caused by tunnelling and excavation associated with the construction of the project, which spans from Merrylands to Botany.

Owners of some of the 10,000 plus properties directly above or aligned with the WestConnex motorways have said they’re facing demolishing their homes due to structural damage and have backed the class action.

The proposed proceedings will be led by the same legal team that won a landmark settlement from the Federal Government in 2020 for PFAs-related chemical contamination of homes and land, including at Williamtown, north of Newcastle — and Dentons partner Ben Allen said the cases held certain similarities.


“As in Williamtown, communities across Sydney have been ignored, palmed off or simply told to go away when they raise genuine concerns about damage and loss of property value,” he said.

“And again, like Williamtown, despite residents speaking out in the media and at parliamentary inquiries for many years, they continue to face a coordinated wall of indifference — this time from those involved in the WestConnex project. Community-led class-actions are now often the only way of tearing that wall down.”

The NSW State Government has advised that any complaints about WestConnex property damage should be directed to the contractors building the 33 kilometre largely underground road. However, the contractors are denying there’s a problem, forcing the residents to pay thousands in survey and legal costs to prove their individual claims, explained WestConnex Action Group (WAG) spokesperson, Rhea Liebmann.

“The time and cost of proving WestConnex damaged their homes is placed on the residents’ shoulders,” she said.

“They’re told dry weather, wet weather, cracked pipes, dripping taps and not the massive toll road built metres under or next to their house is responsible. Yet contractors flatly refuse to provide any of their technical documentation to anyone including the panel assessing damage. It’s farcical and frustrated residents have had enough of this delay and deny tactics.” 

Additionally, residents and the WAG Group are being denied information on monitoring measures and systems.

“Those constructing WestConnex have made a lot of noise about having in place a whole range of systems to monitor any potential ground movement or damage to property. Yet when residents with damaged properties have asked for that information, they’re told they can’t have it. The independent panel assessing their claims are told they can’t have it,” Mr Allen added.

“It is quite unbelievable, incredibly frustrating for residents but it also sets a dangerous precedent. You can’t tell people on one hand you have put all possible monitoring measures in to protect their interests and then turn around and say it’s not in their interests to know what that information is. In over two decades of representing both plaintiffs and defendants in class actions, I can’t recall a greater challenge in trying to access documentation.”

The class action, which will be funded by Omni Bridgeway, is currently seeking registers of interest.

“The legal team at Dentons have spent a significant amount of time looking into both property damage and diminution of value for properties associated with WestConnex. We take a cautious and considered approach but every month we’re uncovering more issues of serious concern,” Mr Allen said.

“We also know that some community members feel isolated, helpless, or afraid to speak up. The reality is there is a window in which a class action can be launched in Australia, and many will risk losing potential compensation if they later decide to take legal action for worsening damage.”

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