find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
Senior family lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Family Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Outstanding national firm · High-calibre family law team
View details
Plaintiff lawyers claim win in inquiry proposals

Plaintiff lawyers claim win in inquiry proposals

AFTER A year of campaigning against NSW’s tort reforms, plaintiff lawyers have won qualified support from a parliamentary inquiry.The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has called for the…

AFTER A year of campaigning against NSW’s tort reforms, plaintiff lawyers have won qualified support from a parliamentary inquiry.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has called for the immediate implementation of the inquiry’s proposals that would ensure those “injured through the negligence of others” received “fair and just compensation”.

Insurers say to do so would undermine the purpose of the reforms and in fact lead to lower pay outs to seriously injured claimants.

ALA NSW president Richard Royle said the findings of NSW Upper House General Purpose Standing Committee No.1 had highlighted the “erosion of victims’ rights in NSW public liability, workers’ compensation and motor accident laws”.

A spokesperson for the ALA said among the key changes that should be made was the proposal to discontinue the use of the medical assessment guidelines under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999, the Workers Compensation Act 1987, the Workplace Injury Management Act and Workers Compensation Act 1998.

Others included the extension of the 15 per cent “most extreme case” threshold for non-economic loss damages in the Civil Liability Act 2002 to the Workers Compensation Act and the Motor Accidents Compensation Act.

The ALA said if these and other changes recommended had been in place, it would mean Susan Harris — who lost her unborn seven-month-old son in a car accident caused by another driver in January — could have received up to $80,000 in compensation, instead of nothing.

However, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) said the recommendations would seriously undermine the intent of the personal injury reforms, leading to a hike in premiums as well as lower compensation for those with “catastrophic and serious injuries”.

The ICA said recommendation 17, which called for the Government to reduce the cap on non-economic loss damages under the Civil Liability Act and the Motor Accidents Compensation Act to $300,000 would “substantially reduce the maximum non-economic loss damages available for catastrophically injured people”.

“The Committee’s recommendations would reduce compensation for those people who need it most,” said Alan Mason, ICA executive director.

An ICA spokesperson said the tort reforms had created “a balance in the system … where the focus is on rehabilitation of the injured”.

“What the recommendations effectively do is wind back the tort reforms … to the 1990s when there were ridiculous amounts of compensation awarded to people who were suffering minor injuries.”

The ICA also pointed out that the committee did not support lawyers’ claims that the insurance industry was profiteering from the reforms.

The Committee states: “Given the range of factors that have contributed to the current profitability of the insurance industry, the Committee does not believe that the industry has been systematically profiteering as a result of the Government’s reforms to personal injury compensation law in NSW.”

Both the ICA and the ALA, however, were opposed to the inquiry’s proposal that the Government create a personal injury compensation tribunal based on the Dust Diseases Tribunal (DDT) to hear all statutory and common law compensation claims, as opposed to the courts.

The ICA said this ignored the fact that the DDT had been subject to major review and reform because of its inefficient and expensive processes. “We believe that the District Courts are the most efficient [to deal with compensation claims].”

The ALA agreed: “The Alliance believes that the most efficient and fairest way to resolve personal injury claims is through the court system,” Royle said.

See Top 10 issues of 2005 on p19 for background on this story

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Plaintiff lawyers claim win in inquiry proposals
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Warning
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Unite
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...