Personal Injury tribunal legislation currently before parliament – Belinda Cassidy summarises this new development for dispute resolution in NSW workers and motor accident compensation claims.
Some time ago the NSW Parliament’s Upper House Law and Justice Committee recommended the expansion of the Workers Compensation Commission (WCC) into the area of motor accident or CTP dispute resolution.
Parliament is soon to be considering the Personal Injury Commission Bill which, if passed into law will establish the Personal Injury Commission and the anticipated start date is 1 December 2020. The PIC will replace the WCC and take over most of the decision-making jurisdiction of the motor accident Dispute Resolution Service. The PIC is a tribunal not a court but it will be independent (of SIRA the government department that will fund and staff it) and headed by a President who must be a judge.
While there will be harmonisation and commonality of some functions (for example a combined registry and similar medical assessments), there will be two separate divisions. This recognises the specialisation required to deal with the complex legislative framework of the very different workers compensation and motor accidents jurisdictions. Some attempts at harmonising disparate practices have been adopted by the PIC for example in medical reviews / appeals the WCC model of two medical assessors with one legal member has been adopted for all matters. However harmonisation has not been achieved in other areas for example in the Workers Compensation Division a summons can be issued to a party or a witness to attend a hearing whereas in the Motor Accidents Division a summons cannot be issued to a witness only to the injured person or the insurer.