WELLINGTON, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government on Tuesday passed the first reading of the Canterbury Earthquake Insurance Tribunal Bill on the eighth anniversary of the first Canterbury Earthquake, said Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods.
"Eight years on from the devastating September earthquake, too many people are still battling Earthquake Commission or their insurance companies in order to get their claims resolved," Woods said in a statement.
Minister of Justice Andrew Little said the Canterbury Earthquake Tribunal will provide another avenue for Cantabrians to have their claims resolved. It will allow for binding resolutions to settle claims, and will not require a claimant to be able to afford expensive lawyers' fees to get access to justice.
Woods said the bill's passage through first reading is a fitting way to mark the eighth anniversary of the earthquakes, adding the delays around insurance are one of the key roadblocks holding back progress in post-quake Christchurch regeneration.
"This tribunal puts more tools on the table to help people resolve their claim, from independent, funded mediation services to access to alternative dispute resolution services," she said, adding the tribunal will be empowered to set timelines that must be followed and award penalties for undue delay.
The public is now invited to have their say on the details of the bill, Woods added.