SP Ausnet files defence in Victoria, Australia

SP AusNet said on Friday that it has filed its defence with the Supreme Court of Victoria concerning the Feb 7, 2009, Black Saturday bushfire known as the Kilmore East fire.

SP AusNet denies it was negligent and claims that its conduct was at all times reasonable as well as in compliance with technical regulations.

The company is facing a class action with more than 600 claimants against it. The action claims that proper maintenance and correctly identifying a damaged power line could have avoided the Kilmore East fire.

SP AusNet has also made counterclaims against several parties: the Department of Sustainability and Environment, the State of Victoria (Victoria Police), the Country Fire Authority and a contracted inspector of electricity assets.

The purpose of the counterclaim is to join other parties where they may be relevant to the Court's consideration of the causes and consequences of the Kilmore East fire.

If SP AusNet's defence of the claim is successful, the counterclaim will become irrelevant and will not be pursued.

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