A Warrnambool legal firm has had its costs trimmed in the Supreme Court - and will now take home $6.78 million from two St Patrick's Day bushfire class actions.
Maddens Lawyers were this week claiming $318,368.81 in costs, including $70,840 for counsel disbursements, as part of its final costs approval application.
Only $241,670.11 of costs were approved on Monday.
But, the firm has been able to bill $6.8 million for class actions it took on behalf of about 235 victims of the 2018 St Patrick's Day bushfires at The Sisters/Garvoc and Terang/Cobden.
The settlements reached were first approved by the Supreme Court on December 19, 2019.
On July 3, 2020, the court approved costs of $2.25 million in relation to the Garvoc/The Sisters bushfire from an all-in settlement of $5 million.
The Supreme Court also approved costs of $3.68 million for a Terang/Cobden class action on March 2, 2020, which was settled for $17.5 million.
It is unclear what proportion of Monday's approved costs are for Terang/Cobden and/or Garvoc/The Sisters bushfires.
In addition to the $3.65 million for the Terang/Cobden fire, Maddens also had another $634,608.09 approved after an application to the Supreme Court in July 2020.
That's an accumulated $4.31 million for Terang/Cobden, plus the $2.25 million for Garvoc/The Sisters.
The additional $241,670 approved on Monday takes the total of Maddens' costs for the two actions to $6.8 million.
Maddens Lawyers class action principal Kathryn Emeny said the firm was pleased the two class actions had now been successfully concluded.
"Local bushfire victims who participated in the class actions and pursued their losses arising from the Terang/Cobden and Garvoc/The Sisters fires have received a very high proportion of the total losses they suffered in these fires," she said.
The feedback we have received from the hundreds of participants has been overwhelming positive.- Kathryn Emeny
"The feedback we have received from the hundreds of participants has been overwhelming positive," she said.
The majority of victims in the two fires were represented by a no-cost compensation action which was finalised and payouts made last year.
The Sisters farmer Jill Porter led the charge to overhaul Powercor's maintenance after electricity assets caused fires in the south-west on St Patrick's Day.
"The insurance companies, IAG, QBE and Allianz along with representing solicitors Hall & Willcox, have done an outstanding job representing us," she previously said.
"I believe they have at all times held our best interests at the fore, while also demonstrating much compassion, kindness and respect of our trauma."
In December last year Powercor was fined $130,000 in Warrnambool court over the Terang fire.
Long-time senior journalist
Long-time senior journalist
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