ADDING FURTHER fuel to the fires of discontent surrounding the wide-ranging changes to personal injury law, ACT Supreme Court Justice Terry Connolly has come out in favour of the position maintained by Australia’s peak legal body.
Speaking at the 15th Annual Insurance Law Congress in Sydney, Justice Connolly stated that the 2002 tort law reforms had been implemented by governments “on the basis of very flimsy evidence”.
Law Council president Tim Bugg said, “Justice Connolly’s statements add considerable weight to evidence now emerging that recent tort law changes were unprincipled and unnecessary.”
“Seriously injured people are suffering while insurance companies claim record profits. There is enough evidence now available to demonstrate this suffering need not continue,” he said.
Bugg said it was wrong that information about the pattern of claims made to insurers and the basis for setting premiums remained “locked” within insurance companies. “The insurance industry should open its books to public scrutiny,” he said.
In his speech, Justice Connolly also referred to the research of Professor Ted Wright, which showed tort law reforms had drastically reduced numbers of claimants eligible for fair compensation. He stated the report debunked the myth that Australia was experiencing a litigation explosion in the period leading up to the Ipp review.
“It is now clear the Australian community was fooled by insurers into believing the ‘insurance crisis’ was caused by greedy litigants. Now seriously injured people are denied adequate compensation while insurers line their pockets,” said Bugg.