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Queensland Toll Class Action Updates

The parties were before the Court on 3 June 2024 to deal with instructions to the parties’ experts regarding their assessment of the “reasonable costs” of administering and collecting unpaid tolls.

As noted in previous updates, the first defendant (QMMPL) was ordered to produce various documents and information to the parties.  At this stage, the experts have been asked to examine the material provided to them to date and to identify by 28 June what further information they require in order to undertake the assessment.  The Court made clear that the experts can make future requests of QMMPL as and when necessary.

The Court has made it clear that it wants the matter to proceed more expeditiously and has made some directions about how disputes between the parties might be resolved without the need for a Court hearing. This was a positive development for the representative plaintiff.

Following the hearing on 19 October 2023, the first defendant (QMMPL) produced various documents and information (by way of witness statements) which purported to address what was required by the parties’ experts.

On 9 April 2024, orders were made, in effect, that the parties’ experts are to discuss that material and identify whether any further information is required in order for them to undertake their assessment (which is to answer questions relating to the “reasonable costs” of administering and collecting unpaid tolls).  The parties and the parties’ experts will also discuss the form of the proposed questions to the experts.

With the benefit of the experts’ views, the parties are to come back before the Court in about June or July 2024, subject to the parties’ and Court’s availability at that time.

In August 2023, the Court made an order that SLB Queensland Investments Pty Ltd be substituted as the lead plaintiff in the proceedings, in place of Adeva Home Solutions Pty Ltd.

Separately, the case is progressing well in terms of document production and expert work. The plaintiff has prepared proposed questions to its experts to opine on certain issues in the proceedings relating to the “reasonable costs” of administering and collecting unpaid tolls. At the recent hearing before Bradley J on 19 October 2023, the defendants were ordered to complete a similar exercise and prepare proposed questions for their experts. We expect that expert evidence will begin to be prepared in the first half of next year.

Also at the hearing on 19 October 2023, the defendants were ordered to produce and disclose various documents that are required by the parties’ experts in order to undertake their assessment.

The parties are next due to come back before the Court in about April 2024.

The Plaintiff has filed an application seeking to make certain amendments to its pleadings and to replace the current lead plaintiff (Adeva Home Solutions Pty Ltd), with another Queensland based entity, SLB Investments Pty Ltd (SLB), predominantly because SLB’s claims are more representative of the claims of the whole class. The parties are currently liaising with each other and the Court in relation to an appropriate date for the hearing of this application.

Separately, the Discovery Application (which was detailed in our below update of 14 December 2022) was heard on 16 and 17 March 2023. Orders were made for the defendants to produce certain documents relevant to the issues in dispute. The parties are continuing to liaise in relation to the production of these documents.

Piper Alderman, a premier national law firm with class action expertise has recently been appointed to represent the lead applicant (the Plaintiff) in the QLD Toll Class Action.

In May 2022, the Plaintiff filed an application, seeking, amongst other things, that the Defendants produce and deliver to the Plaintiff, documents relevant to the issues in dispute (the Discovery Application). The purpose of the Discovery Application is to ensure the Defendants produce all documents relevant to the dispute.

On 14 October 2022, The Honourable Justice Boddice made orders for the parties to file and serve their evidence and written submissions in relation to the Discovery Application.

A two-day Court hearing has been listed for 16 and 17 March 2023, during which the Court is expected to hear the Discovery Application and determine which documents will be disclosed to the Plaintiff.

Further updates regarding the outcome of the Discovery Application will be provided in due course.