End in sight for fuel case

End in sight for fuel case
By admin

An end is in sight for the six-year fuel surcharge class action against Air New Zealand, but the matter looks set to be resolved outside the courts as both parties move towards settlement.

On the fourth day of the class action in the Federal Court in Sydney, Alan Sullivan QC, representing travel agents, revealed that negotiations over an agreement had taken place.

“A compromise has been achieved,” he told Justice Robertson.

However, while the applicants felt a binding settlement had been reached, Sullivan said Air New Zealand did not share that view.

This was confirmed by the airline’s legal counsel Robert Stitt QC who insisted “there is no concluded agreement”.

“I can indicate that there is really only one issue that is outstanding,” Stitt added. “Those discussions remain subject to without prejudice and there’s no purpose to be obtained at this stage in debating in front of your honour the matter any further.”

Justice Robertson branded it an “unfortunate outcome” – although he failed to elaborate on precisely why – but asked both parties to keep the court informed on progress.

No timeframe for any agreed settlement and no further hearing date was set.

“Those things haven’t been fully thought through yet,” Sullivan said.

The two parties will now hold further out of court negotiations in a bid to reach an agreement that would, finally, bring the fuel action to a conclusion.

But it is unclear what the “outstanding” issue is and a failure to reach an agreement could see the matter drag on.

It is also unclear how much money may be involved. Earlier in the hearing this week Justice Robertson said he recalled a figure of $40,000 being suggested, an amount disputed by lawyers acting for agents.

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