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Accident Compensation Cases

Estate of Nigel John Black v Accident Compensation Corporation (DC, 09/10/00)

Judgment Text

Judge A W Middleton
The appellant has applied for leave to appeal to the High Court against the decision of His Honour Judge P F Barber issued on 7 June 2000 under number 130/2000. 
The appeal arose out of the fact that the deceased died by hanging on 29 November 1996. The Coroner was unable to conclude that the deceased had committed suicide and made a finding of misadventure. The deceased's estate lodged a claim for compensation with the respondent which was declined. 
Following a review hearing, the respondent's primary decision was confirmed and it was against that decision which the appeal was brought. 
His Honour had the benefit of hearing evidence from a well known Clinical Psychologist as to the deceased's probable state of mind at the time of death. His Honour concluded that his responsibilities were different from those of the Coroner and confirmed the conclusion that on the facts the deceased knew and understood what he was doing at the time he took his own life. 
The appellant submits that His Honour erred in law in holding that the respondent was not bound by the Coroner's findings. It was further submitted that the decision was erroneous in point of law in the finding that the deceased “wilfully injured himself so as to commit suicide.” 
The respondent submits that there is no requirements in the law whereby the findings made under the Coroners Act 1998 are binding on this Court in making a decision under section 81 of the Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Act 1992. 
The appellant did not provide the Court with any statutory provision in support of the claim that this Court was bound by the finding of the Coroner. I consider that it was open to His Honour Judge Barber to consider the evidence before him and to make a decision as to whether or not there was an entitlement to cover under section 81 of the Act. His Honour had the benefit of hearing evidence from the Psychiatrist and had the other established facts before him. In spite of submissions that he was bound to adopt the Coroner's finding, no statutory requirement was identified to support that submission. 
I consider that His Honour came to a decision on the facts which were before him which did not involve any question of law. 
Accordingly the application for leave to appeal to the High Court is declined. 

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