In November 2019, Gordon Legal launched the Robodebt Class Action on behalf of five representative applicants and on behalf of hundreds of thousands of people who are included in the case as ‘Group Members’. The essence of the Robodebt Class Action is that debts raised by Centrelink’s Robodebt System are unlawful, and all recipients should be compensated by the Respondent to the claim, the Commonwealth of Australia (which is responsible for Centrelink).
The Robodebt Class Action argues that Centrelink’s use of averaged ATO information to reassess a recipient’s entitlements does not provide a valid basis to allege that the recipient has been overpaid and owes a debt.
On 29 May 2020, the Commonwealth announced that it now accepts that its Robodebt System was unlawful and that it will refund 470,000 debts raised under the system to 373,000 people. This announcement will apply to most, but not all Group Members. It is a significant step forward in the fight against the Robodebt System.
Despite the announcement of refunds, the Robodebt Class Action is not over yet. The Representative Applicants are continuing the case because they do not believe that the Commonwealth’s announcement satisfactorily deals with all of the legal issues raised by the Robodebt System.
Update on the Robodebt Class Action
Recently, we we received permission from the Court to add new allegations to the class action. Following this, the Commonwealth was granted more time to prepare, so that it can respond to these new allegations.
Those developments mean that the start date of the trial has been pushed back. The rescheduled date will be determined shortly, after the Court receives news about whether other cases are going to go ahead, and it decides how much more time the Commonwealth needs to prepare.
As this case is being heard in Melbourne, an important consideration is the Covid-19 restrictions currently in place. The restrictions have delayed some cases, while others are being heard remotely via video link. The new date could be as early as November of this year, or it may be pushed back to early 2021.
What should I do now?
If you received a notice in your MyGov account from the Commonwealth regarding the Robodebt Class Action and have been directed to the Gordon Legal website, you can safely assume that you are a Group Member. We strongly recommend that you:
Read the FAQ page, which will answer any questions you may have about the Robodebt Class Action; AND
If you have not done so already, register your interest with Gordon Legal so that you receive up to date information about the Robodebt Class Action and so that we can provide you with legal advice about your circumstances.
If you have not yet received a notice from the Commonwealth regarding this class action, you may still be a Group Member. We also recommend that you read our FAQ page to understand how the class action might impact you and whether you are likely to be a Group Member.
Copies of the court documents are available below: