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Accident Compensation Cases

Aubrey v Accident Compensation Corporation (DC, 10/04/03)

Judgment Text

RESERVED JUDGMENT OF JUDGE A W MIDDLETON 
Judge A W Middleton
[1]
The appellant has appealed against two review decisions being: 
[a]
Application 5573. That application was dated 22 May 2002 and appeared to seek either a review of a “decision” of the Corporation dated 19 December 2001, or alternatively a review of an earlier review decision dated 10 April 2002 (Review 5138) in which the Review Officer held that she did not have jurisdiction to hear that review. 
[b]
Application 5497. That application was dated 24 April 2002 and sought to review a “decision” of the Corporation dated 29 January 2002, on the basis that the appellant disagreed with his IRP, seeking to have the provisions relating to “work trials and workplace assessment” deleted from his IRP. 
Decision 
[2]
The appellant stated that he had received cover in respect of a back injury. He explained that he had serious differences of opinion with his case manager in the completion of an IRP. 
[3]
When the respondent would not accept the appellant's requests for modification of his IRP he lodged an application for review in which he sought a change of case management and compensation. 
[4]
The appellant's application in respect of Review 5138 also sought a change of case management. 
[5]
I explained to the appellant that the decision of the Reviewer in respect of 5138 was correct because the matter had already been decided by the earlier review in which the Reviewer concluded she had no jurisdiction because the issue did not arise from a decision of the respondent which carried a right of review. 
[6]
I also explained to the appellant that as he had now moved from Christchurch to Blenheim and had entered into a new IRP after his previous entitlements had been reinstated in full, there was no way in which the Court could now assist him. 
[7]
I am concerned that this matter came to Court because a serious lack of communication between the appellant and his Christchurch case manager could have been resolved if the respondent's office manager had taken note of the appellant's complaints at an early date. 
[8]
The appellant stated that because his case manager insisted on his persisting with a strenuous gym programme which he found seriously increased his pain problems, the tension between the two of them increased. 
[9]
The appellant said that his weekly earnings were stopped, in his view incorrectly, as a result of which he was unable to pay his rent which resulted in his moving from Christchurch to Blenheim. 
[10]
The appellant explained that since his move to Blenheim he has entered into a new IRP and has a case manager who understands his position and with whom he is compatible. 
[11]
The appellant said that the need to move involved him in heavy costs and it was for this reason he had lodged a claim for compensation. 
[12]
I am concerned that as the appellant has not been able to afford legal representation he has found himself in an argument with bureaucracy with which he could not compete. While his own attitude may have exacerbated the position it does seem that the respondent's staff could have taken a more sympathetic approach to the appellant's claim. 
[13]
The friction which existed between the parties prompted the appellant to proceed with his appeal because he considered that the respondent had failed in its obligation to him. It was for that reason that he and his wife drove from Blenheim to Christchurch for the hearing of the appeal because they considered they had no other forum available in which to air their complaints. 
[14]
While I have no power to order it I consider that it would be appropriate for the respondent to make a contribution towards the appellant's travel expenses. 
[15]
As I told the appellant his appeal is dismissed. 

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