After losing their loved ones in the tragic 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, five Australian families that were part of a class action against the airline have reached settled.
The settlement was reached ahead of an eight-day hearing due to begin in the Federal Court in Sydney on Wednesday.
At a short hearing on Wednesday morning, the terms of the settlement were approved by Justice Nye Perram, who congratulated the parties on reaching an agreement.
This news comes ahead of the fifth anniversary of the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukraine next month. The plane was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot by a Russian surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 people on board including 38 Australians.
Following the settlement, Malaysia Airlines issued a statement to ABC News, which said it was “pleased the settlements had been achieved and approved by the Federal Court”.
“In order to maintain respect to all parties, the details of these settlements shall remain confidential and are subject to the court’s confidentiality orders,” the statement said.
“Our thoughts are always with all affected families and we wish and pray for their continued strength with each passing day.”
Five families will reportedly benefit from the settlement; other families reportedly either pursued legal action against Malaysia Airlines independently or went into mediation with the airline.
While the terms of the settlement are under court order to remain confidential, the barrister representing the families told the ABC the payout figure was “reasonable”
“While the settlement has come about on the very evening of the commencement of the hearing, nevertheless it is appropriate,” Rowe said.
“I don’t suggest for one moment that the families have all overcome the loss, but I think most of them, if not all of them, are attempting successfully to get on with their lives.”
Rowe added that his clients, who had already been through two mediation sessions, were relieved they did not have to relive their grief at another court hearing.
“Giving evidence would have been a very, very difficult thing to do,” Rowe said.
“They have been thinking about that for a long while … they had steeled themselves ready to do it … but settling relieves them of that extra trauma, it’s a good thing.”