|Wednesday, 5 June 2002|
In what amounts to a qualified admission, Esso has reached an agreement with lawyers bringing a $500 million class action over the 1998 Longford gas explosion, which killed two people.
Lawyers bringing the action said under the agreement, if they could prove Esso had a duty of care to Victorian gas consumers, the company was prepared to admit certain facts about the accident.
While Esso said it had made "admissions of fact", it still denies responsibility for losses suffered by gas customers. Esso told the court it did not admit negligence over the explosion in September 1998 and the court needed to focus on what it believed was the real issue of the class action.
"And that is whether we had this duty to maintain continuous supplies of gas to consumers in Victoria with whom we did not have any contractural agreement," said an Esso spokesman.
The agreement means no evidence on the accident, its cause or the cause of the interruption to the gas supply will be heard at the trial, due to start on 2 September.
Law firms Slater and Gordon, Maurice Blackburn Cashman, Phillips Fox and Lander Rogers launched the class action against Esso on behalf of Victorian businesses and consumers.
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