Supreme Court paves the way for payments to begin.

Justice Cameron Macaulay in the Victorian Supreme Court has made orders allowing distribution of a $70 million settlement to 1,690 asylum seekers who were detained at Australia’s immigration facility on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea between late 2012 and mid-2016.

The Court heard that payments to the 1690 registered members of the Manus Island class action[1] are expected to begin before Christmas. The starting date for the distributions, however, depends on when the scheme administrator can finalise reviews of claims by certain class action members who seek compensation for physical or psychological damages.

The 1,690 potential recipients represent almost 90 per cent of the 1,923 asylum seekers who were detained on Manus Island from November 2012 until May 2016.

Fifty-two of the 1,923 did not want to participate in the class action. A further 114 have not been able to be contacted, and 67 had been contacted but neither registered to participate nor opted out.

That left 1,690 registered members. Of this, 1,506 so far have provided payments details to the scheme administrators.

Justice Macaulay has also approved the late registration of 31 class members, saying the net financial effect for other claimants would be “relatively modest” (an average of $306 per claimant) while there would be a potentially significant benefit for the 31 late registrants.

At the same time, the Court orders draw a line under the number of potential claimants in the Manus Island class action: no one else can elect to join the class.

The class action claimants had alleged the Commonwealth of Australia and other defendants falsely imprisoned the asylum seekers and breached duties of care.

The Court approved the class action settlement in September 2017.

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[1] Majid Karami Kamasaee v The Commonwealth of Australia, G4S Australia Pty Ltd & Transfield Services (Australia) Pty Ltd (now known as Broadspectrum Ltd)

Published on 24 November 2017