Judge halts release of EQC email
EQC information, in the hands of an anonymous blogger has to stay under wraps, a High Court judge has ordered.
Shortly before a court hearing this afternoon the blogger offered not to release the information if court proceedings were dropped and EQC chief Ian Simpson agreed to a debate with him.
But in the High Court at Wellington EQC's lawyer Pheroze Jagose said he did not have instructions from EQC to accept the blogger's offer.
At the end of the hearing Justice David Collins extended an order he first made on Monday at the request of EQC against "unnamed defendants" prohibiting disclosure of confidential information.
The order continues until a date the judge will set in a judgment to be issued later.
He said he expected a full hearing of the case could take place within three or four weeks.
The blogger says on his website that he was sent information from a disgruntled EQC staff member and he intends to publish it early this week. Justice Collins was told EQC has not been able to identify any source of the leak.
It follows the March 22 mistake in which an EQC staff member sent a contractor, Bryan Staples, details of the 83,000 individuals in its repair programme. Staples deleted the information almost immediately.
The blogger says he has arranged with Staples a way to verify the identity of individuals so they can see what information is contained about themselves in the leaked EQC information.
Jagose said the EQC information was confidential and included information about the cost of repairing homes. If the information was released it could skew the market, he said.
Through his lawyer, Kathryn Dalziel, Staples complained about being brought into the proceedings at all and having to incur the cost of urgently seeking legal advice.
Staples was adamant he did not give the information to the blogger, did not know how the blogger got it, and did not know who the blogger was.
Jagose said EQC served papers on Staples because it seemed he was prepared to be involved in distributing the confidential information.
COST OF LEAK UNKNOWN
The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has conceded it had no idea how it could ''accurately'' gauge the cost of disclosures from its notorious leaked email.
Ahead of today's High Court decision, The Press, obtained documents in which EQC chief executive Ian Simpson admits he does not know how EQC could assess the impact accurately ''either in terms of fulfilling its statutory obligations to remedy or compensate for earthquake damage, or to quantify and recover subsequent damages''.
EQC had sought permanent orders to shut down publication of details from the email and an inquiry into damages and costs.
The documents say EQC is seeking to maintain confidentiality for a ''very good public reason''. It claims the general availability of the information would ''undermine the commercial disciplines that enforce market outcomes for repair and compensation.
''Non market outcomes impose an artificial burden on tax and levy payers on the one hand, or on claimants on the other.''
The commission also wants an order forcing the blogger and each recipient of the email to file an affidavit saying to whom it supplied information.
The documents reveal for the first time the spreadsheet attached to the email was compiled for the purpose of monitoring workflow as at September 2012.
EQC yesterday obtained an interim orders from the High Court in Wellington against "unknown'' defendants prohibiting disclosure of the email. Today's hearing continued those interim orders to a date yet to be set.
The email contains a raft of information about each property including the original assessment value when the claim was sent to EQR for repair.
It was accidentally sent to Christchurch businessman Bryan Staples, of Earthquake Services, last week and has since also found its way to an anonymous blogger.
The two had set up an arrangement where Earthquake Services was verifying personal information to ensure privacy was maintained and, once residents were cleared, the blogger was releasing the resident's information on the email.
Key details in the leaked email include:
1. Status of claim at central command centre (EQR).
2. Status indicating claim progress (In Hub, In Command Centre, Under Construction, In Progress, Complete).
3. Planned start for repair.
4. Planned completion date for repair.
5. Additional status of claim when required (including Awaiting Engineer's Report, Awaiting Asbestos Test).
6. Contractor quote value as entered in EQR systems).
7. Original (EQC) Assessment value when claim sent to EQR for repair.
8. Detail on where in the EQR process the claim sits.