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Brownlee wrong to concern over legal service

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New Zealand News | Friday April 26 2013 6:07

Brownlee wrong to concern over legal service

The Earthquake Recovery Minister is being told he has no reason to be concerned that the Christchurch City Council is backing a new insurance advocacy service.

Gerry Brownlee has warned the council will be on its own in dealing with any legal action the service attracts.

However, partner of law firm Lane Neave, Duncan Webb says there is little risk of that.

"Community Law has been giving free legal advice for years, and no-one has suggested that it shouldn't be giving it, or that there is some legal liability underpinning it."

And Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker agrees the minister's concerns are unfounded.

"With respect to Mr Brownlee, I think he's actually not quite got all the facts, and once he's got all the details I think that he'll recognise that there is no risk to the ratepayers."

Bob Parker says he has been trying to get in touch with Gerry Brownlee to discuss his concerns.

But the head of the Insurance Council is warning Cantabrians to think very carefully about using an insurance advocacy service.

Insurance Council CEO Tim Grafton says people at an impasse with their insurance companies can already turn to the Insurance Savings Ombudsman, the Disputes Resolution Service and the Financial Services Resolution Service for support.

He says insurance companies are legally obliged to uphold any outcomes from these agencies, and it won't cost the individual.

"If people take another avenue in terms of advocacy and litigation, that will be at their cost and it will preclude them from being able to have gone through the Dispute Resolution Service."

Tim Grafton says insurance cases can be legally complicated and he is not sure whether an advocacy service is the right way to go.

"They need to be well aware of what all the legal complexities are around some of these disputes, and I don't know whether the city council can do that."

Photo / Getty Images

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