The beneficial nature of the WRC Act and other developments

We are using this article to reflect on the workers compensation system in Tasmania and acknowledge the developments in this area.

The Tasmanian workers compensation system is a fast-paced environment, and the various stakeholders have to work together in meeting the objects of the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Act).

This Act is widely accepted as a beneficial legislation.

The beneficial legislation

The beneficial nature of this Act was recently affirmed in T. v Westpac Banking Corporation [2023] TASCAT 135 (18 July 2023) (T v Westpac). In T v Westpac, the Deputy President in the Personal Compensation Stream of the General Division in the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Tribunal) found that the employer’s actions to not commence payments of workers compensation did not accord with the scheme of the Act. In this case, the employer was of the view that because the worker’s claim was not valid (in its view), the provisions regarding payment of compensation did not apply. The Deputy President said, “It is not the role of the employer to determine whether the claim is valid or not. That is the role of the Tribunal.”

This shows that the scheme of the Act is to ensure injured workers are compensated for their injuries in a timely manner. Employers and insurers who disagree with the basis or validity of a claim should consider seeking relief through section 81A.

The beneficial nature of the Act was acknowledged again in the Supreme Court in Perret v Tasmania [2023] TASSC 25 (24 July 2023). This case was an appeal against the Tribunal’s decision to hear a section 81A referral. The Supreme Court found that where the Electronic Transactions Act 2000 applies, a worker’s claim for compensation is made when the worker sends the relevant documents to the employer’s representative, not when the representative sees or reads it. In other words, the claim for compensation is made when the relevant documents land in the email account not when the recipient accesses the email containing those documents.

Again, the Supreme Court noted the beneficial nature of the Act and considered the issues that will arise if the requirement was, “when the recipient accesses their email account.” For example, if an employer’s representative to whom a claim was sent fell ill for a few weeks and did not check their email while they were unwell, the injured worker’s claim would receive no attention for that period. To an injured worker, this could cause severe financial hardships and obstruct access to treatment.

The Expert Witness Code of Conduct

We also take this opportunity to remind our readers that the Tribunal issued a Code of Conduct for expert witnesses engaged for matters in the General Division.

Expert witnesses engaged for the purposes of matters before the General Division of the Tribunal must be aware of and agree to comply with the Expert Witness Code of Conduct annexed and marked ‘A’ in Practice Direction 1.

The Code of Conduct can be found here.

If you need assistance in briefing expert witnesses, please let us know.

Developments in workers compensation

In the workers compensation space, Page Seager provides assistance to insurers, self-insurers and nominal insurers in the management of workers compensation claims. Occasionally, we also advise other stakeholders on relevant issues.

We believe in being up to date with legal developments and we use this knowledge to ensure our clients see the best possible commercial or litigated outcomes.

Finally, in light of the widely talked about case of Mosaic Support Services (Tas) Inc v Woolley [2023] TASSC 27 (11 August 2023), Mathew Wilkins, Principal, co-presented on section 86(4) and section 88 referrals in the Tribunal at the recent 2023 eReports Workers Compensation Masterclass organised by the Australian Insurance Law Association.

If you find yourself in a similar situation to the circumstances in any of the cases discussed in this article, please contact Hari Gupta.

Mat Wilkins
M: 0419 106 417

Tom Pilkington
M: 0417 669 478

Hari Gupta
Senior Associate
T: (03) 6235 5133

Published: 1 September 2023

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