Rest climate risk case goes to trial

A three-day trial has been scheduled for the landmark case brought against Rest by member Mark McVeigh.

The case, related to climate change risks, will have its day in court with a three-day trial scheduled for the week commencing 20 July 2020.

The parties will file expert evidence by March 20 and a case management hearing is scheduled for April 17.

At a case management hearing, held on November 24, Rest and McVeigh were given a process for handing over discovery documents, expert reports and reply.

David Barnden, principal and director of Equity Generation Lawyers who is representing McVeigh, told Financial Standard the onus is on Rest to provide information on its trustee process as it relates to McVeigh's complaint.

McVeigh has always maintained that Rest failed to provide him with adequate information about how it addresses climate change related risk.

Asked whether that means that if Rest provided McVeigh with the information he originally sought the case might not proceed to trial, Barnden said: "If the claim was solely on access to information that could potentially be the case."

"But now we're in a world where there are allegations that trustee duties have been breached."

A spokesperson for Rest said: "Climate change risks are factored into Rest's investment strategy and decision-making process, including asset allocation and strategy reviews, as well as in the selection and review of our investment managers."

Rest does not offer carbon neutral or sustainable investment options to members in the way that some funds do. However, the fund is a member of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and says it is strengthening efforts to measure, monitor and report on climate-related risks.

But, Barnden pointed out what the fund is doing now in relation to climate change is irrelevant to the case.

"The court will look at the circumstances before the claim was filed, the information that was available to trustees and their process," Barnden said.

Read more: Mark McVeighDavid BarndenEquity Generation LawyersFinancial StandardUnited Nations
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