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Gordon Legal acts on behalf of a number of students who enrolled in the Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence – Aeroplane) course (CPL Diploma) offered by Box Hill Institute (BHI) in conjunction with Gobel Aviation Pty Ltd (Soar).

Many of the students who enrolled in the CPL Diploma have raised a number of concerns about BHI’s delivery of the course, including in relation to the performance of Soar. Many of the former students who have contacted us have incurred substantial debts under the VET Student Loan Scheme, as well as incurred very substantial out of pocket expenses and income loss.

In March 2020, Gordon Legal commenced class action proceedings against BHI on behalf of the representative plaintiffs and group members. Soar were joined to proceedings in July, 2020 as a third party. As a result of Soar’s joinder as a party to the proceedings by BHI, an Amended Statement of Claim was filed on 3 August 2020, joining Soar as a the second defendant in the Class Action. A copy of the Amended Statement of Claim can be found here.

The four named representative plaintiffs are Nerita Somers, Adel Hassanein, Matthew Lamont and Felix Ouldanov. The representative plaintiffs have commenced the proceedings on their own behalf – and as representatives of group members’ against BHI and Soar.

The compensation sought in the class action includes:

  • Reimbursement of tuition fees paid to BHI and/or reduction or waiver of group members’ VET student loans attributable to the CPL Diploma course;
  • Reimbursement for lost time and additional expenses incurred through attending and participating in the CPL Diploma course;
  • Refunds of additional flight costs paid to Soar during the CPL Diploma course;
  • Any additional studying costs incurred as part of preparing for CASA exams;
  • Damages for distress and inconvenience as a result of the administration of the CPL Diploma;
  • Interest and legal costs.

Prior to commencing proceedings, Gordon Legal made several attempts to negotiate with BHI. Gordon Legal was hoping to enter a dispute resolution process allowing our client’s individual circumstances and financial losses to be assessed and mediated in accordance with an agreed set of principles.

Update on Mediation

On Tuesday 1 June 2021, mediation commenced between the Representative Plaintiffs and Box Hill Institute ("BHI").

As expected a settlement agreement was not reached between the parties, however, the discussions were constructive and the parties have agreed to exchange some more information about the quantification of the losses of group members and continue their discussions over the next few weeks. Accordingly the mediation has been adjourned. A case conference is scheduled on 6 July 2021 before Associate Justice Efthim to allow the parties to report back to the Court on the progress of their discussions.

We will continue to explore with BHI whether the proceedings can be resolved, however, as previously indicated we expect negotiations to take several weeks to conclude.

A case management hearing is scheduled on 12 July 2021 before Justice Dixon. The purpose of this hearing will be to set a trial date and establish a timetable for trial. In that way, the ongoing negotiations will not slow down the Trial process.

Orders from the first Case Management Conference.

On Monday 25 May 2020, this matter was listed in the Supreme Court of Victoria before His Honour Justice Dixon for a Case Management Conference.

His Honour also made an order which required Box Hill Institute to email a document entitled ‘The Class Action Summary Statement’ to all students who received an email from Box Hill Institute on Friday 15 May 2020 - encouraging students to re-enrol in the CPL Diploma course.

This order was made in response to submissions made on behalf of the plaintiffs that Box Hill Institute ought to have informed students of the group proceeding and the claims made within it. This would have allowed students to make a fully informed decision as to whether or not it was in their best interests to re-enrol in the CPL Diploma course and to seek legal advice in relation to the risks of doing so.

Gordon Legal has provided legal advice on the reasonableness of re-engaging with the CPL Diploma Course. This advice is reserved for clients of Gordon Legal.

The Class Action Summary Statement can be found here.

Orders from the second Case Management Conference

On 22 July 2020, His Honour Justice Dixon made future orders for how the group proceeding will operate. Key orders from the Case Management Conference include:

  1. BHI was ordered to make discovery of all documents that we have identified as being necessary by 21 August 2020;
  2. Soar was ordered to make discovery of its documents by 6 November 2020;
  3. Group members who wish to opt out of the proceeding, must do so before 4:00pm, 18 November 2020 – you can find a copy of the Opt-Out Notice here;
  4. The plaintiffs’ expert evidence is to be filed by 11 December 2020;
  5. The defendants’ expert evidence is to be filed by 28 February 2021;
  6. The matter has been listed before judicial mediator, Associate Justice Eltham of the Supreme Court – with orders requiring the parties to attend a mediation on or before 12 March 2021; and
  7. If the matter does not settle at mediation, the matter will be immediately heard for another case management conference on 12 March 2021 and the matter will be set down for trial.

Whilst His Honour did not set a trial date, His Honour did indicate that the proceeding would be listed for trial in or around June 2021.

Next Steps

If you have yet to engage Gordon Legal to act for you in the class action, please register your details here. We will be in contact with you to discuss your individual circumstances and to answer any questions you may have.

Additionally, we have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions. They can be viewed by clicking here.

 

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