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Accident Compensation Cases

Strange v Accident Compensation Corporation (DC, 17/04/02)

Judgment Text

Judge A A P Willy
This is an appeal from a decision of a Reviewer given on 14 January 2000. In fact it is the second review decision given in relation to the appellant's claim for weekly compensation. The first decision is dated 4 August 1999. 
In the earlier decision the Reviewer held that the appellant was entitled to cover. The appellant's claim for weekly compensation was declined by the respondent on the basis that he had not suffered any incapacity arising from the accident which the respondent now accepts the appellant suffered on 4 January 1998. The Reviewer upheld that determination and it is from that latter decision that this appeal is brought. 
Mr Gribben, who appears as counsel for the appellant, puts his case substantially on the basis that the respondent is bound by the findings of the 1999 review decision, in the sense that the Reviewer, having concluded that the appellant suffered personal injury by accident, he ought to be entitled to receive all relevant compensation. 
Mr Barnett, for the respondent, submits however that the decision of July 1999 goes no further than establishing that the appellant suffered a personal injury by accident and submits, with a good deal of force, that there is simply no acceptable medical evidence from which the respondent could conclude, in the exercise of its statutory functions, that the appellant suffered any incapacity. 
It is clear, having heard counsel and such evidence as there is, that there is indeed no medical evidence which links the appellant's present disabilities with the accident which happened in early January 1998. 
In the ordinary way, that would have simply been the end of the matter and the appeal, of necessity, would have been dismissed on the basis that the Reviewer, Mr Howell, was driven to the conclusion at which he arrived to that effect. 
However, it does appear to me that having looked at the file and listened to counsel that those advising the appellant, and there has been more than one firm of solicitors, may not have directed their attention to the crucial need for medical evidence directed to linking the accident with the precedent incapacity. It may be, in fairness to the solicitors, that part of the reason why that obvious course had not been taken is that the appellant simply has not had the funds to pursue a specialist opinion and in that context I note that he has said he has asked the respondent to fund such an opinion but it has declined to do so. 
However that may be, I am most reluctant that this appellant's claim should fail for no reason other than a lack of evidence which, conceivably, might be available to him. I say that because there is some chronological evidence on the file from the appellant's GP relating to the unbroken series of complaints about his back; down to the present time. 
I therefore adjourned the hearing at the luncheon break for Mr Gribben to take further instructions. He has now done so and the appellant would like to have an opportunity of trying to obtain such a medical report. 
Mr Barnett, unsurprisingly, does not consent to such a course but does not oppose it. Counsel points out that there has been ample time for the appellant and his advisors to pursue this option and it is true that there is a series of unacceptable delays in the way in which this appeal has been prosecuted. 
However, there are larger matters at stake than any procedural deficiencies and I do not think it will be fair to the appellant to simply dismiss this appeal because of such defects. 
I therefore adjourn the appeal sine die to enable the appellant to pursue the option of seeking a specialist medical report. 
Leave is reserved to either side to apply to the Court to set the matter down upon giving 7 days notice to the other side and I expressly make that reservation to protect the position of the respondent in the event that there are further unexplained delays in finalising this appeal. 
The questions of costs are reserved. 

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