Murray Darling Basin Class Action

Banton Group acts on behalf of Doyle’s Farm Produce Pty Ltd and the other lead Plaintiffs in New South Wales Supreme Court Proceedings No. 2019/00150651 (Proceedings) in representative proceedings (i.e., a class action) against Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and the Commonwealth of Australia (together, Defendants). 

The Plaintiffs claim that the Defendants breached their alleged duty of care owed to the Plaintiffs (and group members).  The Plaintiffs further claim that MDBA and its delegates mismanaged the operation and maintenance of the Murray Darling Basin by causing or permitting “overbank transfers” through the Barmah-Millewa Forest in the periods between 3 October 2017 and 20 January 2018; and 31 August 2018 and 7 January 2019.

The Plaintiffs also claim that the Defendants’ conduct resulted in NSW Murray Regulated River general security water entitlement holders, Victorian Murray high reliability water share holders within the Murray declared water system and related parties receiving less water than they would otherwise have received, and suffering damage, including a reduction in the market value of their water, increased costs of water on the temporary market and business losses.

For more information about the allegations made in the claim, you can read the Plaintiffs’ Third Further Amended Statement of Claim filed 18 April 2024 (and all pleadings) when it is made available here.

 

Opt Out Notice

The MDBA Class action is ran on an “opt out” basis. This means that all eligible group members are automatically included in the class action unless they formally opt out.

At a directions hearing on 12 April 2024, the Court ordered that 4.00pm (AEST) on 31 May 2024 is the date by which a Group Member (see below) may opt out of the Proceedings (Opt Out Deadline). Group Members who opt out will not be bound by the outcome of the MDBA Class Action and will not receive any money from the MDBA Class Action if it wins or settles.  To opt out of this class action you will need to complete the Opt Out Notice (may be accessed here) and then return it to the Registrar of the Supreme Court of New South Wales at the address on the form. The Opt Out Notice must reach the Registrar by no later than 4.00pm (AEST) on 31 May 2024, otherwise it will not be effective. Group Members should seek legal advice before opting out.

 

Registering as a Group Member

If you are interested in registering to be a Group Member or have a query, click here or contact Banton Group by emailing mdbaclassaction@bantongroup.com.  While registering is not required to be a Group Member, by registering, you may help the Plaintiffs negotiate a better settlement for Group Members because the more information they have about Group Members’ claims the better a position they will be at the mediation of the MDBA Class Action which is currently scheduled on 19 July 2024.

 

Am I a Group Member?

You are a Group Member in the MDBA Class Action if you are a person or entity who, for all or part of the period between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2020:

 

  • held NSW Murray Regulated River general security water entitlements under the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW) or high reliability water shares issued under the Water Act 1989 (Vic) for the Murray declared water system; and/or
  • held water supply entitlements under contractual arrangement with the holder of a NSW Murray Regulated River general security bulk water access licence under the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW) or held water supply entitlements under contractual arrangement with Goulburn-Murray Water as the bulk entitlement holder of WSE000139;

 

  • (the persons or entities described in subparagraphs (a) and (b) are together described as Water Entitlement Holders);
  •  
  • or, not being Water Entitlement Holders,

 

  • conducted irrigated agriculture operations in the NSW Central Murray or the Goulburn-Murray irrigation region using water entitlements owned by Water Entitlement Holders (Related Parties); and
  • in the case of Water Entitlement Holders and Related Parties, or both, received and/or utilised an allocation of water in:
  1. the 2017/2018 year;
  2. the 2018/2019 year; and/or
  3. the 2019/20 year

 

which was lower than the allocation which they would have received and/or utilised had the conduct the subject of complaint in the representative plaintiffs’ claim not occurred; and

  • suffered loss or damage by reason of the conduct of the Defendants set out in the representative Plaintiffs’ claim.

 

Legal or other costs

Group members in a representative proceeding are not individually responsible for the legal costs associated with bringing the representative proceedings or for the costs of the Defendants if the claim is unsuccessful. In a representative proceeding, it is the Plaintiffs that are responsible for such costs.

The Plaintiffs in the MDBA Class Action are presently being funded by a company called International Litigation Partners No. 8 Pte Ltd (ILP). ILP pays the Plaintiffs costs of bringing and running the MDBA Class Action. If the MDBA Class Action is unsuccessful, ILP will pay any order made against the Plaintiffs to pay the Defendant’s costs.

You will not become liable for any legal costs associated with the MDBA Class Action simply by remaining a Group Member during the determination of the common questions. However:

  • if the preparation or finalisation of your personal claim requires work to be done in relation to issues that are specific to your claim, you can engage Banton Group or other solicitors to do that work for you. You may be liable for costs associated with determination of issues concerned only with your claim;
  • if any compensation becomes payable to the class members including you as a result of any order, judgment or settlement in the MDBA Class Action, the Court may make an order that some of that compensation be used to help pay a share of the legal costs and other costs which are incurred by the Plaintiffs in running the MDBA Class Action. The Plaintiffs propose to ask the Court to make such an order. Further, either the Plaintiffs or the funder (ILP) may ask the court for an order approving payment to ILP of an amount the Court considers reasonable for funding the MDBA Class Action. The Court will not make such an order without giving you notice and an opportunity to tell the Court if you agree or disagree with what is proposed. If the Court does not make such an order, it might be asked to make a different order requiring all group members to contribute to the litigation funding costs incurred by the Plaintiffs and those group members who have signed contracts with ILP. The total of any amounts deducted will never exceed the amount a group member receives;

 

That is, group members will never be out of pocket by participating in the MDBA Class Action;

  • representative proceedings are often settled out of Court. If this occurs in the MDBA Class Action, you may be able to claim from the settlement amount without retaining a lawyer.

 

Key Documents

You can access the following key documents in the matter through the Supreme Court of NSW website:

  1. Statement of Claim filed 14 May 2019.
  2. Amended Statement of Claim filed 9 April 2020.
  3. Defence to Amended Statement of Claim filed 17 July 2020.
  4. Further Amended Statement of Claim filed 1 December 2020.
  5. Defence to Further Amended Statement of Claim filed 11 December 2020
  6. Interlocutory Judgment dated 13 April 2021.
  7. Second Further Amended Statement of Claim filed 11 April 2022.
  8. Points of Claim filed 12 April 2022.
  9. Defence to Second Further Amended Statement of Claim filed 29 April 2022.
  10. Points of Defence filed 29 April 2022.