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Letters to the Editor

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ACC review

I was very interested to read the article by Lynda Hagen in LawTalk 871 (14 August 2015, page 40).

I had been aware of the decision to shelve the proposed new appeal tribunal, in favour of wider consultation with stakeholders. I think that was a very wise decision of the two ministers [ACC Minister Nicky Kaye and Justice Minister Amy Adams].

Over quite some years, I have done quite a bit of ACC review work, not because I have particularly sought it out, but rather most lawyers in private practice regard it as being uneconomic, time consuming and specialist in nature. I can understand that thinking, especially with legal aid rates being as they are. I suspect that a lot of other lawyers in the Community Law Service are likewise called on.

In a lot of ways I feel somewhat like a social worker in doing this advocacy, a comment John Millar himself made on National Radio when speaking of his role.

The “system” is, in my view, definitely “skewed” in favour of ACC, who, of course, has the financial resources to fund medical specialists to do reports on claimants and, undoubtedly, to instruct lawyers in the appeal process. The reality faced by a claimant, who almost invariably has low financial means, is very different. I can understand why so many are frustrated by the process and opt out of taking appeals.

It would be interesting to know what the late Sir Owen Woodhouse would make of all of this now.

I would be most interested in participating in the proposed conference that is mooted in the article.

David Sparks

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