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Accident Compensation Cases

Seymour-Huggett v Accident Compensation Corporation (DC, 09/09/16)

Judgment Text

Judge G M Harrison
By notice of application dated 18 December 2015 Mrs Seymour-Huggett seeks leave to appeal to the High Court on a question of law against the decision of Judge MacLean of 8 December 2015, in which he upheld the decision of the Corporation declining cover for a claimed dental injury. 
By minute of 12 January 2016 Judge Henare directed the parties file submissions by certain dates following which the application for leave would be dealt with on the papers. Those submissions have now been received. 
Mrs Seymour-Huggett sustained two injuries in 2011. In the first she fell off steps and hit her head on an iron rail and was dazed. Later, in September 2011, she sustained further injuries when knocked from her bicycle. On neither occasion, when treated for her injuries, was any dental injury noted. 
In January 2013 Mrs Seymour-Huggett's dentist lodged a claim for dental injury to a bridge and crown allegedly sustained in one or other of these accidents. 
The Corporation referred Mrs Seymour-Huggett to Dr Jonathan Leichter who, in a report dated 24 July 2015, concluded: 
“While the client has undoubtedly sustained several injuries there is no evidence that any of the accidents had any significant impact on status or treatment needs of the bridge or of the supporting teeth. ”
On the basis of that report the Corporation declined the claim. The Judge in his decision commented that the matter depended entirely on the Court's assessment of the available evidence. He noted that despite information available from Mrs Seymour-Huggett's dentist and general practitioner, which were both based on historical recall received from the appellant and could not amount to expert evidence, there was no evidence to challenge the conclusion of Dr Leichter. He consequently dismissed the appeal. 
Mrs Seymour-Huggett's submission in support of her application for leave consisted solely of a letter from the Yeovil Dental Practice in Somerset, England, confirming only that the dentist who treated her in August 2013 had left the practice, and that if he had provided Mrs Seymour-Huggett with a denture, she would have been a suitable candidate for that, otherwise it would not have been provided. 
It is, of course, difficult to make any connection between the dental work undertaken for Mrs Seymour-Huggett in England and her claim against the Corporation. 
The Corporation submits that no question of law has been identified which would justify referring the matter to the High Court. Reference is made to the decision of Doogue J in Impact Manufacturing (HC Wellington, AP 266/00 6 July 2001) in which it was held that before even a defined question of law can be referred to the High Court, it must be “capable of bona fide and serious argument” to qualify for the grant of leave. 
The application for leave to appeal does not identify any question of law which requires reference to the High Court and consequently the application for leave to appeal to that Court is dismissed. 
There is no issue as to costs. 

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