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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

HA4 Committee on absolute liability

Committee on absolute liability
The New Zealand legal system developed on the British common law model. Except for work injuries covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act, entitlement to compensation for personal injury required proof of negligence by a tortfeasor. The hope was expressed that eventually a “no fault” scheme could be introduced to cover all risks, no matter how the accident happened, and in 1937 a Bill was drafted for motor vehicle accidents which would have gone some way towards achieving this end. However, in the face of strenuous opposition the Bill was dropped. The notion of “no fault” compensation continued to simmer in legal circles. The “fault” principle came under scrutiny in 1962 when the Government appointed a Committee on Absolute Liability instructed to:
“report on the desirability of the introduction of some form of absolute liability for deaths, and for bodily injuries, arising out of the use of motor vehicles and to report on the adequacy and justice of the law, insurance practice and legal procedures.”
The committee recommended that at that time “no present change in the law could be recommended”, but found that (Report of the Committee on Absolute Liability for Motor Vehicle Accidents, New Zealand, Government Printer, 1963, para 40):
“There is a case for an accident insurance scheme which would cover all persons who are injured in any way without negligence on their part, provided the community can afford to bear the cost on an equitable basis.”
In the 1960s there was growing concern about the effectiveness of the Workers’ Compensation Act 1956 in delivering adequate compensation for work injuries. The statutory benefits had fallen behind national wage levels to the extent that by 1973 the weekly benefit was equivalent to about 52 percent of the average weekly wage. The limited term of 6 years for which the benefits were payable under the Act resulted in many seriously incapacitated workers being forced to fall back on social welfare benefits.

From Personal Injury in NZ

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