Christchurch earthquake: Property owners win right to sue Earthquake Commission over damage payouts

It could be one of New Zealand's largest class actions yet.

Property owners who had liquefaction damage from the Christchurch quakes have won the right to sue the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

After fighting the EQC for years, Lucinda McEvedy feels the pressure has finally lifted.

She believes she was grossly underpaid for the damage her property sustained during the Christchurch earthquakes. Now she's won the right to sue.

"I cried when I found out on Thursday. Mainly I cried because I was happy that the judge had agreed to it," she told Newshub.

Agreed to a class action that could end up being the largest in New Zealand's history, with potentially thousands of claimants.

"It's really hard to stand up to a government department, it is. You're one person and you can say lots of different things to them and you speak to lots of different people, it doesn't mean they're going to listen," McEvedy said.

McEvedy said she received roughly a fifth of what should have been paid out to repair the land.

"It decided instead of paying people based upon the cost to repair their land, which is what it's done for the past 30 years, it decided it would pay for it by loss and value which is something it dreamed up along with its lawyers which resulted in it paying significantly less," McEvedy's lawyer Grant Shand said.

Shand said the EQC saved about $1.5 billion by settling land claims this way.

"This is about money which is about compensating people because these people haven't had this money for five to 10 years when they should have had it," Shand said.

The EQC didn't respond to Newshub's request for comment on Saturday.

The judge ruled the class action will go ahead on an opt-out basis. Those affected are automatically included, this means no one will miss out, unless they choose to.

It could also benefit other victims of natural disaster land damage.

"This isn't just about land issues in Christchurch and Canterbury. As we know there are significant problems with land up north too. That will continue and I'm really hopeful that will help the Christchurch complainants but others as well," advocate Ali Jones said.

"A stranger sent me a message last night to tell me about her land claim and that she had gone back and forth with her land claim and had given up so she is grateful that we continued," McEvedy said.

And there are no plans to stop any time soon.