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Class action underway against mesh makers

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/08/2016

A law firm has kicked off a class action suit against manufacturers of faulty seismic-reinforcing steel mesh.

The suit, headed by construction litigators Adina Thorn, argues the mesh used in construction around New Zealand may compromise insurance claims for earthquake damage.

It will launch the suit, funded by London-based Harbour Litigation Funding, on behalf of building owners whose properties have been built in the past four years.

Firm principal Adina Thorn says a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise investigation into the mesh may result in fines for suppliers but would not redress property owners.

"This is a problem because, in the advent of a natural disaster, the use of non-complying steel mesh could compromise insurance claims, pose a risk to life and cause widespread financial losses," Ms Thorn said.

The ministry investigation was centred around companies that supplied inadequately flexible mesh to construction firms.

This includes Steel & Tube Holdings Ltd, according to the firm, which is being investigated by the Commerce Commission.

The commission launched the probe into Steel & Tube in March after the company admitted selling mesh wrongly labelled with independent certification.

It used the logo of Christchurch-based independent testing laboratory Holmes Solutions on its mesh for four years despite it not having carried out tests.

Steel & Tube's in-house lab, which is not independently accredited, had instead been used to test the mesh.

In April the company agreed to only sell mesh that had passed independent testing and was properly certified.

Ms Thorn said other companies may also be named in the class action.

Steel mesh is used as reinforcement in concrete floor slabs to enhance their resilience in an earthquake.

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