Legal firm assesses interest in Telstra class action

A BARRISTER has been briefed on a possible class action seeking compensation over the south-west telecommunications outage late last year.

Warrnambool law firm Maddens expects to have expert advice from the barrister by the end of January which will help determine if a major compensation case should be launched.

Maddens’ class action principal Brendan Pendergast told The Standard yesterday dozens of businesses had registered their interest.

“We’ve had a steady trickle from throughout the region, some are large enterprises, others mid-tier businesses,” he said.

“Some are alleging substantial losses. To calculate losses takes time and complexity in analysis.”

Telstra is processing claims lodged by business operators but there are concerns it will not be adequate, Mr Pendergast said.

About 100,000 services were knocked out by a fire in the Warrnambool Telstra exchange on November 22, affecting domestic and business clients from as far as Lismore to Portland and north to Edenhope.

Some Warrnambool customers had to wait three weeks for full landline and internet services to be restored.

Meanwhile, a survey into the social impact of the shutdown has had almost 300 responses. The study, being conducted by RMIT University’s Regional and Rural Futures Research Group at Hamilton, will help local, state and federal representatives put a stronger case to Telstra to improve their breakdown service.

RMIT senior research fellow Dr Sean MacDermott said results would be analysed at the end of the month and there was still time for people to participate.

“The telecommunications breakdown that occurred late last year is still a current discussion point as some businesses continue to experience intermittent service,” Dr MacDermott said.

“We need all the facts about how this impacted families and businesses in the region and what we have lost from it all and what we gained.”

Dr MacDermott said the survey was recording negative and positive effects of the outage.

To complete the anonymous survey visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/outage 

“Some people have rightly said that 25 years ago we got on around here fine all the time without any mobile phones whatsoever and it was good to have a break from them again,” he said. 

“Others have told us that the outage was a business and income-killer for them. We want to hear from people now, while the events of late last year are fresh in their minds.”

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