A group of 150 Canterbury homeowners will file legal proceedings in the High Court against the Earthquake Commission today.
The homeowners, known as the EQC Action Group, are seeking three sets of declarations from the court around EQC's interpretation of the EQC Act.
The action, the group says, follows EQC's "failure to respond substantively to the proposed declarations" set out in a letter from the group's lawyer Anthony Harper on September this year.
Anthony Harper partner Peter Woods says his clients have not been able to reach agreement with EQC and they consider they will not be able to do so without clarification of EQC's obligations under the Act.
"The purpose of the declarations is to obtain that clarification," Mr Woods said.
"Our clients consider that the issues addressed by the declarations are widespread and common to a large number of EQC claimants."
The declarations cover the extent of EQC's liability when EQC elects to settle by payment, replacement or reinstatement. In addition they argue EQC's liabilities are not met merely by compliance with MBIE guidance.
"Where the EQC Act states the definition of 'replacement value' is 'when new' and compliant with the building code, EQC has chosen to consider only the pre-earthquake condition of a building," Mr Woods said.
"Our clients want EQC to remove the ambiguity and inconsistency around repair standards."
EQC Action Group member Craig Edwards says the group made every effort to engage EQC on the declarations to avoid this legal proceeding and to seek agreement on a co-operative declaratory process.
"We offered to sit down with EQC and discuss these issues, but that offer was never taken up," Mr Edwards said.
In September, EQC wrote to the group's lawyer saying "there is in fact a large measure of agreement on the principles described" in the declarations sought.
"However, when pressed for specifics on what exactly EQC agreed on, no details were forthcoming," Mr Edwards said.
"This set of declarations clarifying EQC's obligations under the EQC Act will pave the way forward for many EQC claimants after more than five years of frustration and anxiety."
The group is seeking a set of declarations including:
* Declarations as to the extent of EQC's liability when EQC elects to settle by payment
* Declarations as to the extent of EQC's liability when EQC elects to settle by replacement or reinstatement
* Declarations that EQC's liability is not met merely by compliance with MBIE Guidance on floor and/or foundation dislevelment
* Declarations that EQC's liability extends to necessary work to undamaged parts of the home (e.g. replacement of or upgrading old electrical wiring, replacement of or upgrading exterior monolithic cladding).