Robodebt Class Action

Gordon Legal is investigating whether more than 400,000 Debt Notices issued by Centrelink after 1 July 2016 lawfully entitle it to recover the amounts claimed.

What is the Robodebt Class Action investigation about?

Gordon Legal is investigating whether the Commonwealth Government has taken money from Centrelink recipients unjustly. In particular whether more than 400,000 Debt Notices issued by Centrelink after 1 July 2016 lawfully entitle it to recover the amounts claimed.  We are also investigating whether the so -called collection fees levied by Centrelink should be refunded and whether those who have repaid all or part of those amounts should be paid interest on the amounts collected by Centrelink. Finally, we are investigating whether the persons affected are entitled to compensation for any distress or inconvenience caused by these events.

What we have learned so far?

We are concerned that Centrelink had no lawful basis for issuing Debt Notices in a large number of cases. It seems clear that many tens of thousands of Debt Notices were issued based on Centrelink using a method of calculation which we are concerned is fundamentally flawed.

It would appear that since July 2016 Centrelink has used an online compliance intervention (OCI) system to create and recover alleged “debt” based on a comparison between Australian Taxation Office (ATO) data and income reported by individuals receiving benefits.

This method of “averaging” individual fortnightly earnings based on the ATO information rather than determining a person’s “actual” fortnightly earnings does not appear to be a lawful method of establishing that a “debt” is due to Centrelink.

The Class Action proceedings will seek to require Centrelink to establish a lawful basis for any debt due to it to establish that it is not appropriate or reasonable for it to seek to shift the onus of doing so onto the individuals concerned. For those reasons it is our current view that Centrelink is not able to establish that it had a proper basis to issue the Debt Notices under the relevant provisions of the Social Security Act 1991 (Cth) (the Act)

Accordingly it is our current view that if a Debt Notice was issued to you after 1 July 2016 and you have repaid part or all of the amount claimed or it was deducted from your benefits, tax refund or wages, you may be entitled to have the amounts recovered by Centrelink repaid to you.  We are also investigating whether other compensation flows from Centrelink’s conduct.

How can I pursue my claim to be compensated for Centrelink’s breach of its obligations to me? 

You may be aware that the so-called Robodebt issue has been widely reported in the media and has been the subject of both a Parliamentary Inquiry and a report from the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth Government does not appear to accept that the Debt Notices, issued by Centrelink on its behalf are invalid and that it has an obligation to repay the money it has already collected under the Robodebt Scheme.

Unless the Commonwealth agrees to change its position then our current view is that people with a claim of the kind broadly described above should pursue their rights by commencing a Group or Class Action.

What is a Class Action?

A Class or Group Action is a Court procedure which allows people with similar claims against another party to bring their action in one Court Proceeding rather than requiring them to go to the cost (and take the individual risk) of commencing their own claim.

In Australia, the law provides individual Group or Class members the opportunity to Opt Out of the Proceedings if they do not wish to participate or wish to bring their own individual claim.

The benefit of Class or Group Actions is that it means that claims that would otherwise not be economically viable for a person to bring on their own behalf are able to be gathered together so that the costs and risks can be shared among a larger group of people with similar claims.

What are the risks of participating in a Class Action?

The risks of participating in a Class Action are similar to the risks that any person bringing an individual claim would face, except that the risk of having to pay the other party’s legal costs if the claim is unsuccessful only falls on the Representative Plaintiff or Applicant.

It is important to understand that you do not face the individual risk of an adverse costs order unless you agree to become the Representative Plaintiff or Applicant. If that was the case then your lawyer will discuss those risks with you very carefully before you agreed to act as the Representative Plaintiff or Applicant.

What should I do now?

We recommend that you Register your interest to obtain more information and consider whether you wish to engage Gordon Legal to act on your behalf if a Class or Group Action is commenced.

By Registering your interest, you are not doing anything which will force you to engage Gordon Legal to act for you, participate in a claim or Court Proceeding or take any step without your further instructions.

By Registering your interest now, you will assist us in better understanding all the dimensions of the impact of the Robodebt Scheme and in turn this will assist us in finally assessing whether a Class or Group Action should be commenced.

Why should I choose Gordon Legal?

The team at Gordon Legal has had extensive experience in landmark class action cases, including:

  • Group action claimants against the Commonwealth of Australia and State Government;
  • On behalf of Asbestos-related cancer sufferers;
  • On behalf of Thalidomide sufferers; and
  • On behalf of those impacted by contaminated blood supplies leading to HIV/AIDS

Our founder, Peter Gordon, brought the first successful group actions on behalf of victims of asbestos-related diseases. He has also acted on behalf of victims of sexual abuse at the hands of members of the Christian Brothers, victims of Big Tobacco, and sufferers of medically-acquired HIV.

Our decades of experience and our determination to bring and win hard cases underpins our commitment to providing access to the legal system. By grouping small connected claims together, we are able to spread out the cost of litigation, which makes it more affordable for our clients.

If you have been affected by a Debt Notice, you are invited to contact us about the Robodebt Class Action by filling in the contact form below.

Register your interest

To register your interest please fill out the form below.

We would be grateful if you could use the on-line Registration process rather than calling our office for assistance in the first instance. The Robodebt Registration form contains all of the information that we need from you at this stage. If we need more information from you, we will contact you directly.

You can read our Privacy Policy here
Thank you for taking the time to contact us.
We will be in touch with you within 5 business days.

In the meantime we would be grateful if you would refrain from calling our office to follow up on your Registration of Interest.
Unable to submit request. Please try again.

If I register my interest – what happens next?

Once you Register your interest we will acknowledge your registration details and provide you with further information. In some circumstances we may contact you by telephone or email you to obtain further information from you or clarify the information you have already provided.

As you may appreciate we are receiving a large number of enquiries about the Robodebt Scheme so it may take several days before we are able to contact you to acknowledge your Registration of Interest or provide further information to you.

We will be in contact. In the meantime we would be grateful if you would refrain from calling our office to follow up on your Registration of Interest.

If you do require some assistance or information in the meantime please email us at: robodebt@gordonlegal.com.au

We will do our best to come back to you within 5 business days of receiving your email request.
Email address to send the form to: robodebt@gordonlegal.com.au

No win, no fee

For eligible cases you don’t have to worry about up-front legal fees. We run your case, and if successful, the legal fee is deducted from your settlement, because we believe everyday people should not be prevented from pursuing justice because they can’t afford it.

Help when you need it most without the added stress of upfront legal fees - no win, no fee.

Read more