The Supreme Court's landmark decision clarifying when home owners can make claims about leaky buildings will only affect a small number of people, government officials say.

In a judgment released yesterday, the court clarified the start time for the 10-year period people have to make claims to the Weathertight Homes Tribunal.

It is now clear that the time starts when a code compliance certificate is issued by a local council, rather then when construction of the property ended.

Auckland couple John and Helen Osborne successfully argued for that at New Zealand's highest court, where they took their claim against Auckland Council.


The Osbornes' lawyer Tim Rainey said yesterday the judgment meant there were potentially 369 claimants previously deemed ineligible who could push for a re-hearing

But today Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment resolution services general manager Adrienne Meikle said "upon examination, we believe that yesterday's decision only affects a small number of past claimants and we would welcome any of those past claimants who think they are affected by this decision to contact us".

"All current and future claims received will now have the Supreme Court decision applied to them. At this stage, we are unable to quantify how many future claims we may now receive as a consequence of the Supreme Court's decision, however [the ministry] has adequate resources to address any increase in future claims," she said.

"Yesterday's judgment in the Osborne case means that we now have certainty on the meaning of the word 'built' in relation to claims bought under the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act."

Ms Meikle said the Supreme Court decision meant there was now "certainty" over when the 10-year period began.

Home Owners and Buyers Association of NZ president John Gray had said the organisation was seeking legal advice over what courses of action were available to home owners previously denied the chance to make a claim in the same circumstances as the Osbornes.

The decision would not help owners of homes built in the 1990s and early 2000s anyway, he said, as they would be outside the 10-year period however it was judged.