D-day for flood feud

By Chris Thomson | posted on September 15, 2018

A WOMAN embroiled in a decade-long dispute with the City of Albany over flooding at her Yakamia property will have her case heard in the Supreme Court from October 15 after her bid to adjourn the trial due to stress she is facing was knocked back.

Catherine Ziverts launched civil action against the City after her Beaufort Road property from 2007 suffered severe damage she claimed was caused by faulty drainage and subsequent flooding of Yakamia Creek.

In a decision published on Friday, Supreme Court Justice Janine Pritchard dismissed the application by self-represented Ms Ziverts, who had argued she was experiencing stress, anxiety and depression, making it hard for her to prepare for trial.

Ms Ziverts had asked that the trial, slated to last for 12 days from October 15, be adjourned for at least three months.

In a hearing on August 31, she told Justice Pritchard she needed more time to prepare.

Ms Ziverts described the trauma she was experiencing in dealing with the evidence, and her difficulties preparing her case since the end of May when her former solicitors ceased to act.

But the City argued the trial had already been adjourned for two months and a further adjournment would see it incur further costs.

In refusing Ms Ziverts’ application, Justice Pritchard noted her present stress resulted from no longer having a lawyer, but this was a “regrettable experience for many self-represented litigants”.

“… This is litigation which Ms Ziverts herself is pursuing,” Justice Pritchard concluded.

“She is not a defendant facing litigation whether she likes it or not.

“This is her action, and it is up to her whether she proceeds with it.”

She considered Ms Ziverts had “some ability” to prosecute her own action.

“In her submissions to the Court today, Ms Ziverts has been lucid and confident, and clearly has the ability to present her argument,” she added.

She implored the City and Ms Ziverts to make a further attempt at mediation.

“In making that observation, I wish to emphasise the importance of both sides adopting a willingness to compromise as to what might be done to bring an end to this litigation,” she counselled.

In a grievance motion presented to then Minister for Local Government John Castrilli in 2012, Albany MLA Peter Watson said Ms Ziverts had been left with a home she could not sell and that required large amounts of money to fix each time Yakamia Creek flooded.

He added this had taken a “tremendous toll on Ms Ziverts, not just financially but also emotionally”.

“Minister, this has been one of the most frustrating, time consuming and bureaucratic shambles I have ever seen an individual go through with government authorities,” Mr Watson added at the time.

“Ms Ziverts is a very courageous and determined woman, but no-one can be expected to wear this sort of expense and heartache forever.”

Ms Ziverts, whose phone number is now listed against an address in Denmark, was contacted for comment.