ACC withheld document favourable to complainant’s case for review and accepted Ombudsman’s view that its service was inadequate
Incomplete copy of file supplied—document favourable to claimant not revealed until after successful review—inadequate explanation offered—apology and remedial action instituted—Accident Insurance Act 1998
The complainant obtained a copy of his Corporation file to assist him in preparing for a statutory review of a case decision. The review found in his favour. Sometime later, when in a similar situation, he again obtained a copy of his file and found on it a report of a peer review of his case which predated the earlier statutory review. The peer review, which had been undertaken by a senior manager, identified an error in the processing of the complainant’s case and predicted the overturning of the case decision on review. The peer review report had not formed part of the file originally copied to the complainant. The complainant sought an explanation from the Corporation believing that the favourable document may have been deliberately withheld until after the review. He received an unsatisfactory response which lead to the complaint being made.
The investigation elicited several possible explanations for the sequence of events, but because of the absence of records that showed when documents were received and the file copied, no firm conclusions could be drawn. The Corporation acknowledged that its service had been inadequate but denied any attempt had been made to mislead the complainant. The Corporation apologised and undertook to provide specific training for the Branch concerned and to revise its national guidelines for processing information requests. The complaint was sustained but no recommendation was made on the basis that remedial action had already been taken.
This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.