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Accident Compensation Cases

Wojcik v Accident Compensation Corporation (DC, 04/10/11)

Judgment Text

Judge M J Beattie
This is an application by Dr Wojcik, a Medical Practitioner, for the Court to make two amendments to a Judgment it delivered on 8 May 2010, which was a Reserved Decision, where the appellant was one Dennis Whiting, and who was seeking a grant of cover for certain medical conditions alleged to have been caused by his work environment. That claim for cover was made pursuant to Section 30 of the Act. 
In the appeal to this Court, both written and oral evidence was received from Dr Wojcik, who was the appellant's medical adviser, and he was giving his evidence in that capacity. 
In my Reserved Judgment in relation to that appeal, I determined that the evidence did not satisfy the requirements of causation in terms of Section 30, and the appeal was therefore dismissed. 
Mr Whiting, the appellant, has not pursued an appeal of that decision, and it was not until April 2011 that Dr Wojcik filed the present application. 
The application is in fact seeking that the Court make two corrections to statements contained in its decision and that such corrections be made in accordance with Rule 1.15 (the slip rule) of the District Court Rules 2009. 
It is the contention of the applicant that comments made in two paragraphs of the decision, namely paragraphs [43] and [45] are inaccurate and ought to be corrected. He contends that the corrections are required to ensure a fair record of the evidence and to avoid the risk of harm to his professional reputation. 
It is Ms Garvey's submission that Rule 1.15 does allow for this type of application and that it is in the interests of justice that the application be granted and the corrections made. 
Mr Tui, Counsel for the Respondent, submits that this applicant has no status to seek any amendment to the Judgment under the provisions of the slip rule, but that in any event, the matters sought to be amended do not come within the provisions of that Rule. 
Rule 1.15 of the District Court Rules 2009, which has as its heading “Correction of accidental slip or omission” and states as follows: 
“A Judgment or Order that contains a clerical mistake or an error arising from an accidental slip or omission, whether the mistake, error, slip, or omission was made by an Officer of the Court or not, or a Judgment or Order that is so drawn up as not to express what was actually decided and intended, may be corrected by the Court or (if the Judgment or Order was made by a Registrar) by the Registrar. 
The correction may be made by the Court or the Registrar as the case may be, on its or his or her own initiative, or on an interlocutory application made for that purpose. ”
The applicant seeks a correction to paragraph [43] of the Judgment, wherein Dr Dryson's evidence is quoted in respect to the 2009 hospital admission of Mr Whiting, and of the diagnosis made at that time of polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and that this medical condition was a plausible cause of Mr Whiting's symptoms. His statement then went on to say as follows: 
“It is not mentioned in Dr Wojcik's brief, although he does mention the valve replacement. This is a serious omission since he is Mr Whiting's treating doctor and should be aware of Mr Whiting's other conditions, particularly since Mr Whiting is on prednisone. ”
The contention made by the applicant is that Dr Dryson was incorrect in that Dr Wojcik had mentioned the fact of Mr Whiting having polymyalgia rheumatica. 
The second point of concern to the applicant was the statement in paragraph [45] that in cross-examination Dr Wojcik accepted that the symptoms which Mr Whiting displayed back in 2003 were those that could also be the symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica. In respect of that statement, Dr Wojcik asserts that he did not concede that all of the appellant's symptoms displayed in 2003 were consistent with polymyalgia rheumatic, and that in fact most of them could not be so explained by that diagnosis, but that some of them only could be so explained, but certainly not most or all of those symptoms, which was the comment he made in cross-examination. 
It was submitted by Ms Garvey that corrections to those two paragraphs would ensure that the Judgment accurately recorded Dr Wojcik's evidence and would therefore lessen any risk of harm to his professional reputation. Counsel further set out two corrective paragraphs which she submitted could be included to remedy the errors which were asserted. 
I have set out the details of the application for the record, but having done so, I do say that I agree with Mr Tui's submission that the applicant has no standing to bring this application. He was not a party to the proceedings, and I consider it to be the case at the first level that an applicant for correction of an accidental slip or omission under Rule 1.15 would need to be a party to the civil proceeding in issue. 
As a second level, I consider that the nature of Rule 1.15 is such that it is not intended to deal with corrections such as are being asserted. There can be no suggestion that there was an accidental slip or omission involved in this case, and it was simply the situation that in the course of the decision certain statements made by witnesses were included, but there is no assertion that anything of which this applicant is now complaining was critical to the decision ultimately made. 
I find that it cannot be asserted that the Judgment as drawn up did not correctly express what was actually decided and this is accepted as being the case by the applicant who has indicated that he is not seeking to challenge any of the Court's substantive findings. 
Accordingly, I find that the applicant cannot succeed to have the decision of this Court amended, firstly for the reason that he has no status in respect of the decision in question, and secondly, that the changes which are sought are not those which come within the range of circumstances contained in Rule 1.15 of the District Court Rules, and accordingly this application is refused. 

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