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Accident Compensation Cases

Bourne v Accident Compensation Corporation (DC, 09/02/04)

Judgment Text

Judge M J Beattie
The appellant has applied for leave to appeal to the High Court against the decision in this Court of His Honour Judge J Cadenhead issued on 12 June 2003 under Decision No. 117/03. 
The Court has received written submissions from Mr J Mather, Counsel for the Appellant and from Miss F Becroft, Counsel for the Respondent. The respondent opposes the appellant's application on the grounds that it has not been shown that any question of law is involved in His Honour's decision. 
The issue which was for determination in the appeal before His Honour was whether the appellant was entitled to receive backdated weekly compensation. The respondent had rejected the appellant's application on the grounds that there was no evidence that she was an earner at the time of injury. 
In the course of his Judgement, His Honour set out the background facts in chronological form. He noted that the appellant had suffered a back injury in April 1999 and that it was in November 1991 that she applied for a sickness benefit. It was not until March 2002 that the appellant made application for backdated weekly compensation. 
His Honour noted that Work and Income New Zealand had no evidence of income from self-employment prior to her sickness benefit application and that Inland Revenue advised that no returns had been filed by the appellant for the 1990/91 tax years. 
It was on that basis that His Honour found that there was no objective measureable evidence of the appellant's income at the time of her accident and that there was no evidence which could be relied upon. His Honour found that in the absence of evidence of income the appellant could not establish an entitlement to weekly compensation and he accordingly dismissed the appeal. 
Section 162 of the Act allows a party who is dissatisfied with the decision of the District Court as being wrong in law to appeal to the High Court with the leave of the District Court. 
The substance of the issue which was before His Honour was whether there was evidence upon which the respondent could act to determine that the appellant was an earner and thereby entitled to weekly compensation from November 1991 onwards. That was entirely a question of fact and His Honour had regard to the evidence, such as it was, on that issue and made a finding of fact that there was simply no evidence of any income earned by the appellant in that period which would thereby entitle her to weekly compensation. 
I find that the matters raised by Mr Mather in his submissions are not germane to the issue which was the substance of the appeal but in any event do not identify any relevant question of law. 
The decision of His Honour was one based entirely on findings of fact and involved no question of law although His Honour did refer to a decision of the High Court which had stated certain principles that apply when weekly compensation was being assessed. That decision was noted clearly in an incidental way and in no way did His Honour make a finding of law adverse to that decision. 
For the reason that no question of law arose and was determined in His Honour's decision there are no grounds for granting leave to appeal and accordingly leave is hereby declined. 

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