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Accident Compensation Cases

P v Accident Compensation Corporation (DC, 04/08/09)

Judgment Text

Judge M J Beattie
As a preliminary, I make an order under Section 160 of the Act prohibiting publication of the appellant's name or any particulars likely to lead to her identification. 
The appellant has cover for injuries under a sensitive claim and also for injuries suffered in a motor accident in March 1993. The appellant also has cover for a treatment injury to her right eye, that injury being suffered in 1996 and in respect of which cover was granted in February 2007. 
Over the past few years, the appellant has lodged a significant number of applications for review in relation to her dealings with the respondent, and also on a significant number of occasions those review decisions have resulted in Notices of Appeal being filed with the ACC Appeals Registry. 
Whilst it is the case that at various times the appellant has sought to question decisions made by the respondent, being decisions within the meaning of Section 6 of the Act, she has also sought to raise issues by way of review and appeal which have not been “decisions” but rather simply administrative actions on the part of the respondent in relation to her claims. 
This Court had in the past considered a number of appeals from the appellant, some of which it has recognised as bona fide appeals from decisions, and in respect of which it has made determinations. Similarly, it has issued a number of decisions determining that there was in fact no jurisdiction for the Court to consider the issue sought to be raised as the matter was not one which was within the appellate jurisdiction of the District Court as contained in Section 149 of the Act. 
At a hearing in the District Court at Rotorua on 21 October 2008, at which the appellant was present and also supported by Mrs A Stewart, a large number of appeal files were reviewed, and where the Court indicated that each of the appeal files would be considered individually and decisions made as to whether the appeal was indeed an appeal of an issue for which the Court had jurisdiction to determine, or whether the appeal was one for which there was no jurisdiction, it not being an appeal in relation to a decision within the meaning of Section 6 of the Act. 
The Notice of Appeal filed by the appellant which has been accorded the Appeal Registry No. AI 352/07, relates to a review decision given on 14 August 2007, and which review decision relates to Application for Review No. 101941. 
In her application for review, lodged on 30 April 2007, the appellant sought to seek a review of a letter written by the respondent to her on 4 April 2007. 
That letter was written to the appellant by her new case manager and it advised the appellant that the Corporation was seeking an up-to-date specialist medical assessment of her incapacity. The letter went on to advise of four specialists from which the appellant could choose to carry out that assessment. The letter further advised as follows: 
“Please advise me by Wednesday 25 April 2007 which specialist you have chosen and if you would also like me to arrange a review with Dr Newburn. If you have not advised ACC of your choice by Wednesday 25 April 2007, ACC will select one of these doctors and will arrange the appointment date and time. Everybody who receives an ACC entitlement is obliged to undergo an assessment when ACC asks them to do so as one of the conditions under which they continue to receive that entitlement. As above, we will work together to ensure your travel and accommodation requirements are arranged prior to your appointment. If you would like to know more about the specialist medical review process, please contact me. ”
It was to that letter that the appellant lodged her application for review, and which application stated as follows: 
“After writing to say that ACC was going to discuss ongoing management of my claim, ACC then wrote and said that I am to have another TWO assessments. This has been done without discussing anything with me or consulting with my doctors. It is harmful to have further assessments and ACC doesn't follow the recommendations of the assessments anyway. 
The two assessments ought to be cancelled and ACC should work from the assessments on file or arrange a case conference as promised previously and/or arrange a meeting with Brenda Kenworthy and bring Fiona Malcolm (neuro-psychologist) back to work with helping me to get better. ”
At the hearing the Reviewer took it that the appellant was objecting to having to submit to the medical assessment being sought and this was the issue considered by the Reviewer in his decision. 
The Reviewer correctly identified that Section 72 of the Act sets out the responsibilities of a claimant and which responsibilities include the requirement that a claimant who was in receipt of an entitlement is obliged to undergo an assessment from a registered health professional when so required. 
Having determined that there was an obligation on the part of the appellant to undergo the assessment which had been sought by the respondent, the Reviewer went on to find that the respondent's letter of 4 April 2007 containing that requirement was not a decision within the meaning of Section 6 of the Act and was therefore not a matter for which the appellant had a right of review. 
I find that the Reviewer correctly determined that in those circumstances there was no jurisdiction to consider the matter further and the application for review was invalid. 
This particular review application is another example of the appellant seeking a review of what is, in effect, an administrative action on the part of the respondent, and at the date that this particular application for review was lodged, the appellant would have been well aware, by reason of a considerable number of earlier decisions, both by way of review and appeal, that there was no basis for the application for review as a matter of law. 
Accordingly, the Reviewer was correct to identify the issue as not being one which was capable of being considered under the review provisions of the Act, and indeed those same provisions apply in relation to an appeal from that review decision to this Court. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed. 

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