People injured in car accidents and making claims under the Motor Accident Injuries Act have been ensured access to justice. Tom Goudkamp unpacks the highly anticipated decision in AAI Limited v GIO v Moon.
Access to justice is bigger than just being able to physically get into a court house or tribunal building. It is about ensuring parties who are in dispute have the ability to be heard and that means having access to lawyers. While Stacks Goudkamp does its fair share of pro bono work, we do believe if an insurance company has a liability to pay the legal costs of the injured person they should do so and at a reasonable rate.
Mr Moon was riding his motor cycle in May 2018 when he was injured in a collision with a car insured with GIO. Mr Moon made a claim under the Motor Accident Injuries Act (the Act) against GIO and was paid weekly income support, treatment and care benefits. GIO terminated those payments after 26 weeks because under s 3.11 and 3.28 of the Act, GIO considered Mr Moon was wholly or mostly at fault for causing the accident. After an unsuccessful internal review, Mr Moon referred his dispute about liability to the government’s Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) and a claims assessor determined that Mr Moon was wholly at fault. Despite Mr Moon losing, the claims assessor awarded him costs and determined there were exceptional circumstances in the case justifying an award of costs over and above the amounts allowed by the government under the Motor Accident Injuries Regulation (the Regulation).
It was that decision that was challenged by the Insurer in the Supreme Court proceedings and the decision of Justice Wright can be found at  NSWSC 714 https://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au
After summarising the complex statutory provisions relevant to statutory benefits claims, dispute resolution procedures and costs, Justice Wright determined: