Keith Coffison is at his wits end in a battle with Auckland Council over a leaky home issue - and signing up to a novel legal process for justice.
Coffison's case for damages is a modest $10,000, but it's become a personal matter around the health of his daughter who suffers from a hole in her heart.
He doesn't blame the council for his daughter Jasmine's medical condition, but says a leaky issue that made her bedroom cold and damp made her really sick and added to the condition.
Coffison has agreed to be part of a class action against councils being put together by Auckland law firm Adina Thorn Lawyers.
It is aimed at leaky home owners who cannot afford legal costs. The way it works is the law firm packages up a number of claims backed by London-based Balance Legal Capital.
People do not pay anything to bring the claim, but if the action is successful the funder could take 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the damages after all costs are met, said principal lawyer Adina Thorn.
Thorn said the process would remove the stress of paying for lawyers, saying if the case is unsuccessful they would not be out of pocket.
"The majority of people cannot afford to sue in this country. They can't afford it when they have been through hell to bring a legal proceeding. It's just way too much," Thorn said.
Coffison said he and his partner discovered a "nightmare" issue with a concrete wall that caused damp to come through into their daughter's bedroom shortly after their new Avondale home was built in 2006.
The problem has cost about $10,000 to fix and in legal fees.
"I have had my partner, especially when my daughter was sick, in tears, day after day, worried about the room and how we are going to get it fixed," said Coffison, who has been working through Adina Thorn Lawyers and decided to join the class action.
"If we didn't have the class action we would probably have to stop because we couldn't afford any more money," he said.
Thorn said the class action was open to people who had had work carried out in the past 10 years, and others who had already registered with the Weathertightness Home Resolution Service, people in current claims against council, body corporates with problems and people who could not afford legal costs and expert costs.
An Auckland Council spokeswoman said there are four law firms which regularly act for multiple unit owners in a block, but no law firms were presently bringing a class action against the council.
John Gray, president of the Homeowners and Buyers Association(HOBANZ), said a class action is a viable option for people who cannot afford to get justice.
"We do support litigation funding per se. It has worked for many of our members in large body corporate cases where they simply could not afford to find the litigation themselves and were destined to get nothing," he said.
But Gray questioned whether the law firm would be get enough people to "fill the book" to run a class action, saying most people now fell outside the 10-year limitation for taking legal action.
He said the varied ownership arrangements under a single class action could create great complexity for the courts, saying the evidence process alone would be mind-boggling.
Adina Thorn Lawyers is bringing a number of class actions in relation to alleged building and construction problems.
These include a $250 million class action against James Hardie Group companies for the alleged manufacture and marketing of faulty cladding materials and a $40 million-plus funded class action against Carter Holt Harvey for the manufacture of Shadowclad cladding.
The company has also invited Christchurch homeowners to express their interest in being part of a planned action against three steel manufacturers.
That action would support any homeowners whose property had been rebuilt featuring steel mesh which was not compliant.