The Government is getting legal advice on whether it can sue Fletcher Building for damages over the potential billion dollar cost blowout on Christchurch earthquake repairs.
Ross Taylor, chief executive of Fletcher Building, has denied that his company has any moral responsibility for the botched repairs.
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Now that the Government has admitted fixing the problems could potentially cost taxpayers $1 billion, the Minister responsible for the EQC, Megan Woods, wants to find out if it can take legal action to make Fletcher pay.
"That's a live legal question and something EQC board and management has asked for - some Crown Law advice on whether or not there is any potential liability for Fletcher's role as a project management office," she told Newshub.
Mr Taylor has denied there's an "issue".
EQC had overall responsibility for the repair programme, but Fletcher took on the 'project management' office.
The company was responsible for:
- Reviewing damage assessments
- Contracting builders
- Managing their repair work
- Joint sign off with the builder and homeowner
Hundreds and potentially thousands of homeowners have been caught out, with many now having mortgages that are worth more than their houses.
EQC chief executive Sid Miller last week publicly apologised to everyone affected, but Fletcher has no intention of doing the same.
"You're asking us to apologise for something we don't have any responsibility for," Mr Taylor told Newshub.
"It just doesn't make any sense. I have a lot of sympathy, but if it is not in our scope and we didn't do the work, then it just doesn't make it sense to apologise."
Fletcher also had what's called a "legal indemnity", meaning it cannot be sued - but the Government is looking at getting around that.
"Obviously they were indemnified for the work that was carried out," Ms Woods said.
"But the question is around their role as project managers."
Mr Taylor didn't want to comment on that.
"I can't second guess what they're doing. Until they talk to us, I can't respond to rumour and innuendo."
EQC has its legal advice but will not disclose it publicly, although it did say in a statement that it's determining whether Fletcher is liable for "failing to adequately supervise the work, failing to ensure defects were fixed properly and erroneously signing off on defective work".