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Accident Compensation Cases

Auimatagi v Accident Compensation Corporation (DC, 01/02/17)

Judgment Text

DECISION OF JUDGE G M HARRISON 
Judge G M Harrison
[1]
Mr Auimatagi applies for leave to appeal to the High Court on a question of law against the decision of Judge Maclean of 20 May 2016, which dismissed an appeal from a review decision which determined that there was no jurisdiction to review an alleged decision of the Corporation because no decision had been made. 
[2]
By minute of 13 June 2016 Judge LG Powell gave directions as to the filing of submissions by the parties following which the application would be determined on the papers. Those submissions have now been filed. 
[3]
Mr Auimatagi has brought numerous review and appeal decisions, and persists in seeking an outcome which is impossible for him to achieve. 
[4]
The history of his litigation is set out at length in the decision of Judge Maclean and in the decision of the Reviewer, Vicky Thompson, of 8 July 2013. 
[5]
The brief facts relevant to the application are that in May 1987 Mr Auimatagi dislocated his left shoulder while playing rugby league. His claim for cover was accepted and he received earnings related compensation. 
[6]
In May 1996 the Corporation suspended his weekly compensation for failure to comply with his rehabilitation obligations. 
[7]
That decision was reviewed unsuccessfully by Mr Auimatagi who then appealed to this Court. That appeal was settled on the basis that weekly compensation would be reinstated but would not be backdated beyond 11 July 1997. That meant that he was not paid for the period 1 June 1996 to 11 July 1997. 
[8]
In 2001 Mr Auimatagi brought proceedings against his advocates in that appeal claiming that they breached their contract with him in negotiating a settlement on his behalf without his authority. That proceeding was settled but it is not known whether any payment was made to Mr Auimatagi in respect of the unpaid compensation which he had claimed which totalled $23,231.87. 
[9]
Apart from that period Mr Auimatagi received weekly compensation which ceased on 6 March 2007 which was his 65th birthday. 
[10]
At the heart of this application is a letter of 18 January 2013 which Mr Auimatagi wrote to the Corporation in which he raised again the non-payment of weekly compensation from 1 June 1996 to 11 July 1997. 
[11]
The Corporation replied on 8 February 2013 acknowledging the letter of 18 January 2013 and noting that he had raised the same issue on many previous occasions. The letter referred to previous responses in 2007 and 2012, and concluded that the Corporation “will not be revisiting complaints that have already been investigated and responded to”
[12]
Mr Auimatagi reviewed that decision and, as I have noted, the Reviewer declined jurisdiction on the basis that the letter did not constitute a decision that could be the subject of review. 
[13]
In his decision Judge Maclean set out the provisions of s 6 of the Act defining a “decision”
[14]
The Corporation's advice that it would not be revisiting complaints that had already been investigated and responded to did not fall within any of the definitions of a ‘decision’ in s 6. 
[15]
Judge Maclean dealt with the matter quite shortly. He accepted the conclusions of the Reviewer that the issue of non-payment of weekly compensation over the stated period was res judicata by reason of the earlier decisions dealing with that issue, and that the letter of 8 February 2013 was not, and could not be, a decision that was capable of review. 
[16]
That means effectively that no question of law has been identified which should be referred to the High Court. Mr Auimatagi cannot create a decision by the Corporation by endeavouring to raise issues previously dealt with through the litigation process by complaining again about that process only to be advised that the Corporation will not revisit the matter. 
[17]
In submissions made on behalf of Mr Auimatagi a different emphasis is raised where it is claimed that the real issue is about his ongoing incapacity, but no issue in that regard has been identified. It is clear from a further letter from the Corporation of 1 May 2015 that but for the period of non-payment which now cannot be challenged, Mr Auimatagi received weekly compensation entitlements until 6 March 2007 when he qualified for National Superannuation. No definable question of law arises in that regard either. 
[18]
The application for leave to appeal to the High Court is accordingly dismissed because no defined question of law has been identified which would justify reference to that Court. 
[19]
The question of costs is reserved in the event the Corporation wishes to make application in that regard. 

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