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Accident Compensation Cases

Wardle v Accident Rehabilitation Compensation and Insurance Corporation (HC, 27/02/03)

Judgment Text

Gendall J
This is an application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal against the judgment of this Court delivered on 18 October 2002. An appeal to the Court of Appeal can only be pursuant to case stated on a question of law only. 
In the judgment delivered on 18 October 2002 this Court held that pursuant to the Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Act 1992 (s 72) interest was payable on any compensation based on weekly earnings one month from the date on which the Corporation receives all necessary information to enable calculation of the compensation payment. 
The decision further held that the Accident Insurance Act 1998 applied and as it was mandatory that the Corporation make refunds to WINZ, in those circumstances details of the WINZ payment were information necessary to enable calculation. As an obiter finding the Court said that where a discretion existed to refund part of a compensation payment (under s 78(3) of the 1992 Act) receipt by the Corporation of details of benefit payments from WINZ was not “necessary information”
On behalf of the applicant, Mr Miller submitted that questions of law which arose and required to be determined by way of case stated were: 
What is meant by the phrase “Has received all information necessary to enable the calculation of the payment” in s 72 of the 1992 Act and s 101 of the 1998 Act? 
Did a proper interpretation of that phrase entitle the applicant to the benefit of interest from a time one month after he should have received compensation, that is, at the date of his incapacity in 1992? 
The principles to be applied on applications for granting leave to bring what is a ultimately a third appeal are clearly stated in Waller v Hider [1998] 1 NZLR 412 (CA) and reviewed in Snee v Snee [2000] NZFLR 120 (CA). They need no elaboration by me. For leave to be granted the matter must raise some question of law or fact capable of bona fide and serious argument in a case involving some interest, public or private, of sufficient importance to outweigh the cost and delay of further appeal. In the end the guiding principle is the requirement of justice. 
The primary submission of the applicant was that he was entitled to interest from the date of his incapacity in 1992, that being when compensation “should” have been paid. That submission, however, was rejected by this Court. Two other High Court decisions, namely, Howley v Accident Compensation Corporation (HC Invercargill Registry, AP29/01, 6 December 2001, John Hansen J); and (subsequent to this decision) Barnett v Accident Compensation Corporation (HC Auckland Registry, AP64/SW02, 5 December 2002, Paterson J) decided that point in the same way. That is, the meaning of s 72 is that interest is payable from a date one month after the Corporation has received all information necessary to enable calculation of the payment to which the claimant is entitled. That is what the section clearly states. The meaning is well settled by decided cases and I do not consider that any bona fide or serious argument exists on a matter of public or private interest so as to warrant leave to an appeal being granted and a case stated concerning that interpretation. 
A secondary matter is that the applicant contends that leave should be granted and a case stated as to what is meant by the words in the statute “has received all information necessary to enable a calculation of the payment”. But that is an issue of fact. In Barnett (supra) Paterson J said that the determination of what constitutes “all information necessary” must depend on the facts of each case. I agree. Whilst there may be room for argument as to whether information as to WINZ benefits falls within, or outside, the category of being “necessary information”, the fact remains that no useful or practical effect could arise to the applicant because of the accepted facts found in this case. That is, the earnings information received by the Corporation on 11 March 1999 was “necessary information”. Even if it should be that WINZ information was not “necessary information”, the fact remains, however, that the respondent received interest from an even earlier date, 25 February 1999. That is, the applicant was in fact paid interest from a date earlier than he would be entitled to if his appeal succeeded on this point. As he does not contest that the earning information received by the Corporation on 11 March 1999 was “necessary information” so unless he could succeed on his primary point, he could not be paid interest until 11 April 1999 (ie one month after 11 March 1999). It is only if the first point already decided, which is in my view clearly not arguable, was found in his favour then any benefit would accrue to the appellant. 
It is well known that if a point is academic and there does not exist between these parties a matter in actual controversy which the Court of Appeal ought to decide, then leave should not be granted. That is because no useful purpose would be served as between these parties; see, for example, Finnigan v NZRFU (No 3) [1985] 2 NZLR 190. In my view only the first question is a matter of law but the applicant does not raise a bona fide and serious argument so as to require a case to be stated for the opinion of the Court of Appeal on a question of law only given the consistent decisions of this Court. This is not the sort of case that should take up the time of the Court of Appeal. Accordingly leave to appeal by way of case stated is declined. If any question of costs arise on this application the parties may submit memoranda. 

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