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Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited (Southern Response), New Zealand Permanent Trustees Limited (NZPT) and individuals represented by the NGO Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network (WeCAN)
Lead NCPNew Zealand
Supporting NCP(s)
DescriptionSpecific instance submitted by individuals represented by the NGO Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network (WeCAN) regarding the activities of Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited (Southern Response) and New Zealand Permanent Trustees Limited (NZPT) in New Zealand.
Theme(s)Human rights
Date15 Jun 2015
Host country(ies)New Zealand
SourceNGO
Industry sectorFinancial and insurance activities
StatusNot accepted
Summary

Read the final statement issued by the New Zealand NCP - December 2016


On 15 June 2015 two individuals, through their representative NGO Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network (WeCAN), filed a specific instance alleging breaches of their human rights by Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited (Southern Response) and New Zealand Permanent Trustees Limited (NZPT). More specifically, the submission alleged  long delays, disputes over assessments and unnecessary complications in managing claims made after the 2010/11 Canterbury earthquake sequence had breached their rights to health, property, adequate housing and the rights of children and persons with disabilities.

Southern Response is a Government-owned company established to settle claims by policyholders of Allied Mutual Insurance (AMI) for Canterbury earthquake damage which occurred before 5 April 2012. AMI was a local Mutual insurance company, owned by policyholders through the AMI Member Trust, which operated only within New Zealand. Large losses after the earthquakes eventually saw the restructuring and sale of the company, and the Government taking on responsibility for managing AMI’s existing Canterbury earthquake claims as Southern Response. The rest of the business was bought by the Insurance Australia Group (IAG).

The submitters argued that despite being owned by Government, Southern Response undertakes commercial activities through its management of the AMI claims, and its use of AMI’s available reinsurance cover and international reinsurance generally, establishes the international link required to bring it within the scope of the Guidelines. The submitters also alleged that NZPT had a linked business relationship with AMI and Southern Response because of their then role as trustee for the AMI Member Trust, AMI’s activities requiring international reinsurance, and because in undertaking its business as a professional trustee, NZPT is itself engaged in numerous international investment activities. 

Following investigation and consideration of the claim, the NCP rejected it on 9 March 2016 as being out of scope of the Guidelines and informed the claimants that it would not be proceeded with, as neither Southern Response nor NZPT is a multinational enterprise (MNE).  The final statement was issued in December 2016.

Southern Response is entirely owned by the New Zealand Government, and only operates in New Zealand.  It does not compete in the insurance market, has a purely domestic operation, and does not have a transnational focus.  In terms of reinsurance, obtaining goods or services from overseas does not, in itself, make an entity an MNE.   NZPT is a registered New Zealand company. It operates in New Zealand and is wholly owned by Public Trust (a government entity). NZPT’s engagement with AMP’s Superannuation Master Trust did not make it an MNE, nor could AMI’s reinsurance activities sensibly make the NZPT an MNE.