K171mil settlement discussion to take place

National

By CHARLES MOI
Lawyer Ben Lomai says he and lawyers from Australian firm Slater and Gordon Lawyers will travel to Lorengau to discuss a A$70 million (K171 million) conditional settlement with asylum seekers based at the Manus  processing centre.
In June, Slater and Gordon settled a class action against the Australian government for A$70 million plus costs.
According to Lomai, the conditional settlement will cover all asylum seekers, including his clients in PNG.
Lomai, who also has a similar pending in the Supreme Court in PNG, told The National yesterday that he still had to study the settlement package by Slater and Gordon before he could decide how to pursue his client’s case.
He said the settlement covered 905 of his clients who were asylum seekers and the settlement also covered other asylum seekers who had left Manus Island.
Lomai said circumstances of the case had changed and parties looked at negotiating settlement out of court.
He explained that one reason for negotiating settlement out of court was the settlement package from Melbourne in Australia.
“That’s a matter I discussed with Slater and Gordon so they will be coming within the next week to go with us to Manus and discuss with our clients (asylum seekers) there,” he said.
“I requested Slater and Gordon (for the settlement package) last week and they sent me a list of how much they’re likely to pay each client, subject to them (asylum seekers) accepting the amount and then they will specifically look at that and compare with the claims that we have now.”
Lomai said the compensation amount his clients were asking from the Supreme Court in PNG might be more than the settlement amount in Australia, so it needed to be confirmed first.
“Once we do that, then we will be able to make a decision whether to withdraw or to proceed with the case.”

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