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Accident Compensation Cases

Irons v Accident Compensation Corporation (DC, 12/02/13)

Judgment Text

Roderick Joyce QC Judge
This was an application under s 162 of the Act for leave to appeal to the High Court on a point of law. 
On 30 March 2012 Judge Ongley delivered a judgment concerning a decision by the Corporation to decline a claim for an independence allowance on the ground that there was no injury-related impairment. 
Mr Irons had cover for a treatment injury that occurred in 1975 when the rubber part of a catheter broke inside his bladder with a fragment remaining there undetected for several months before it was expelled naturally. As Judge Ongley noted, the appeal concerned the secondary consequences of that injury. 
In 2009 Mr Irons was assessed for an independence allowance by Mr Urquhart-Hay an urologist who had originally seen him several years before. 
Mr Irons had told the Court that in fact he had not seen Mr Urquhart-Hay in 2009 - in fact had only seen him once and that back in 2000 when the first report was provided. 
But as the 2009 report referred to an assessment occupying 30 minutes, mentioned that Mr Irons had presented with his wife and had been physically examined, and that the consequent report was not simply some reproduced version of that in 2000, the Court concluded that Mr Irons was wrong in his belief that he had not seen Mr Urquhart-Hay in 2009. 
The assessment report had stated: 
“This 77 year old man has a chronically obstructed bladder which is not emptying properly. This is due to a chronic prostatitis, perhaps related to his urethritis at the age of 23. Although the incident of the ruptured catheter in 1975 would have certainly given him a urinary infection while a foreign body remained within the bladder, it is most unlikely that it has any connection with his pre-existing prostatitis or subsequent sequelae. Although he has an accepted claim for medical misadventure as a result of a urethral injury, I can find no evidence in the history or medical information provided that there has in fact been any urethral injury. As mentioned, his chronic outlet obstruction is almost certainly a result of a longstanding prostatitis, the origin of which is not entirely clear but I would be confident it has no relationship to the ruptured catheter in 1975
I would regard his condition as permanent and stable and his whole person impairment I would assess at zero percent. ”
(Emphasis added) 
Having set out those findings, Judge Ongley had noted that the nil assessment was not because there was no impairment but because there was none resulting from the treatment injury. He also observed that there was no medical evidence to the contrary and in doing so alluded to other, relevant to Mr Urquhart-Hay's opinion, evidence. 
Before dismissing the appeal, he noted that: 
“There is a possibility that the catheter is a cause of the appellant's bladder impairment, but that is not enough for entitlements to follow the treatment injury, the evidence has to show a probability. It is a medical question that turns entirely on medical evidence, The appellant's own belief is not persuasive because it does not have the authority of medical expertise. In this case the balance of the medical evidence does not show that the appellant has an impairment caused by his treatment injury. ”
The leave application 
In a letter dated 16 April 2012 Mr Irons wrote to say that he wished to appeal Judge Ongley's judgment for: 
“ … the legal reason that there are reports that have been put in that are false, I put in over 91 reports as I wanted the Judge to see how they send a patient from doctor to doctor to support each other and build a case against the patient …  ”
I acknowledge here that at various points in, or parts of, the Court file are to be found numerous reports including such earlier submitted by Mr Irons. 
Mr Irons' letter (sensibly treated by the registry as an application under s 162) went on to set out the history from his perspective - one which it is not necessary to rehearse for the present purpose. 
The just mentioned letter was marked by Mr Irons' “page one”. It appears that it was attached to an email he sent to the registry on 15 April 2012 in which he explained that the email was in effect “page two”
However, what is then set out in the email (and it is a narrative far from easy to follow) amounts simply to a series of assertions of fact or belief with no apparent pertinence to the issue at hand. 
Mr Irons appears subsequently to have submitted a further and considerable volume of documentation all, as he would apparently see it, relating to the issue at hand, but in fact simply including expressions of his views or copies of medical opinions. 
He had then been asked to provide submissions in support of his application. Indeed the appearances are that this further documentation may have come in with a letter dated 11 November 2012 that appears to have been provided in response to the request for submissions. 
This letter is mainly taken up with a history provided by Mr Irons. As it comes to a close, there is this: 
“I could go on and on about what has taken place and I think it would be best for me to tell you in the Court as to what has gone on and how I have been left like this by the system which they have used to cover up and not keep to the truth, none of this would have happen [sic] if the catheter had not burst and cause [sic] all these health problems. I was told that the correct proceedings should have been that everything be put on hold and no settlement made until they sorted out what was to happen in the first accident and what was to happen in the second accident. 
I hope the Judge will read all these reports and letters to be able to get the true picture of the truth …  ”
The Corporation's response to the application 
The Corporation's submissions accurately identified that the issue before Judge Ongley had been whether the outcome of a burst catheter (for which medical misadventure cover had long ago been granted) was the cause of Mr Irons' bladder impairment. 
The submissions went on to note that the Court had held that the evidence did not support a finding of a causal nexus in that respect, but rather the likelihood that Mr Irons' problems were otherwise created. 
The consequential and accurate submission was that the Court's decision was one made entirely on the facts, in particular in terms of the medical evidence before it. 
This is not a case where I consider it at all necessary to catalogue the various circumstances in which leave to appeal on a question of law may be justified, 
The reason why I say that is that it is indeed apparent that Judge Ongley simply and appropriately made a factual decision based on available for that purpose, and recognisable as entirely pertinent and persuasive, medical evidence. 
As the Corporation submitted, nowhere has Mr Irons identified any question of law arising out of the Court's determination of his appeal. All the issues he raises are factual. Indeed they go further and include unsubstantiated allegations against various health and other professionals. 
There is simply no basis at all upon which this Court could conclude that Mr Irons had identified a question of law capable of bona fide and serious argument. 
The application for leave to appeal is dismissed. 

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