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Accident Compensation Cases

Maharaj v Accident Compensation Corporation (DC, 06/12/16)

Judgment Text

Judge L G Powell
In an oral decision delivered on 25 November 20161
| X |Footnote: 1
[2016] NZACC 308 (“Oral decision”
I dismissed an application by the Corporation to strike out Mr Maharaj's appeal. 
The application was refused on the basis that notwithstanding substantial changes in the Corporation's position, as the original decision subject to the appeal had not been revoked by the Corporation and was therefore subject to challenge, the appeal could not be struck out.2
| X |Footnote: 2
Oral decision at [7] 
I therefore indicated that Mr Maharaj's appeal would remain on track for hearing in 2017, but advised that if in the meantime the Corporation revoked its decision the file was to be referred back to me for further directions.3
| X |Footnote: 3
Oral decision at [10] 
Counsel for the Corporation has now advised the Court that by letter dated 29 November 2016 the Corporation has formally revoked its 14 May 2008 decision suspending Mr Maharaj's entitlements, which is the subject of Mr Maharaj's appeal.4
| X |Footnote: 4
Oral decision at [6] 
Specifically, the Corporation has advised Mr Maharaj: 
“As you are aware, on 14 May 2008 ACC suspended entitlements on the above claim on the basis that your then ongoing pain condition was not the result of your personal injury of 3 December 2006 (the decision letter incorrectly referred to the injury date as 13 December 2006). That decision letter referred to the medical evidence showing that your ongoing pain condition was due to pre-existing degenerative changes. 
On 10 August 2015, ACC accepted cover for ‘Persistent Somatoform Pain Disorder’. The medical evidence (from Dr Aamir) indicated that this pain condition was caused by your injury on 3 December 2006. The same pain condition was present in May 2008. 
In light of your cover for the pain disorder, pursuant to section 65 of the Accident Compensation Act 2001, ACC revokes its decision of 14 May 2008 and substitutes it with this decision, reinstating your entitlements on the above claim. ACC accepts that your ongoing pain condition was caused by the 3 December 2006 injury. 
Your specific entitlements from 25 May 2008 will be considered in separate decision letters. ”
There can be no doubt that this letter has unequivocally revoked the original suspension decision dated 14 May 2008. As legal costs in respect of the appeal have also previously been agreed between the parties the effect of the letter of 29 November 2016 is that there is now no longer any substantive or jurisdictional basis on which Mr Maharaj's appeal can proceed. The reason for this is that an appeal like Mr Maharaj's is against a review decision, in this case a decision made by a reviewer upholding the Corporation's decision following an application for review under s 134(1)(a) of the Accident Compensation Act 2001. Accordingly, once the underlying decision is revoked the review decision also ceases to have any effect, and there is therefore nothing left to be appealed. There is simply no longer any jurisdiction to proceed to the hearing of the appeal. 
In his response Mr Maharaj does not dispute the effect of the revocation. As at the hearing before me Mr Maharaj's concern is whether he can challenge the more recent decisions issued by the Corporation5
| X |Footnote: 5
Oral decision at [2] and [8] 
and he has indicated that he will be seeking legal advice in relation to those decisions. That is entirely appropriate, but it is clear that regardless of the outcome of those enquiries the present appeal cannot be used as a vehicle to challenge those decisions, nor does this Court otherwise have jurisdiction to issue any directions with regard to those decisions which are not before the Court 
In the circumstances, and given Mr Maharaj has not withdrawn this appeal and indeed was clear at the hearing on 25 November 2016 that he would not agree to withdraw his appeal, it is now necessary for me to make an order dismissing the appeal. 
The appeal is accordingly dismissed. There is no issue as to costs. 

[2016] NZACC 308 (“Oral decision”
Oral decision at [7] 
Oral decision at [10] 
Oral decision at [6] 
Oral decision at [2] and [8] 

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