For further news on this case, see David Chen, ‘Court Approves $40m Black Saturday fire payout’, ABC Online, 5 December 2011

If you want all the technical details, you can read the judgment of Beach J in Thomas v Powercor Australia Ltd [2011] VSC 614.

There is also an interesting decision in Thomas v Powercor Australia Ltd [2011] VSC 586 where Forrest J had to decide whether or not the plaintiff, Thomas, was entitled to recover money damages for the cost of repairs when the repairs were done by himself and his neighbours (volunteers). The Court held that he was entitled to recover the value of the replaced fencing at a commercial rate. This is not a significant precedent but it may suprise volunteers who step forward in a time of crisis to assist a stranger, for example during the clean up to the Queensland floods, and then find the people they helped are entitled to recover the commercial cost of the repairs. A cost that they didn’t pay and with no obligation to pay the amount to the volunteers or the community.

Michael Eburn.
5 December 2011.