ACC’s Advisory Committee Members cannot provide independent opinions on cases they then later consider
Lack of independence alleged on part of medical expert—provider of independent advice also had deliberative role—perception of possible predetermination—complaint sustained and recommendation made—Accident Insurance Act 1998
A complaint was made that the Accident Compensation Corporation had asked a person serving as the medical member of its Medical Misadventure Advisory Committee considering the complainant’s case to also provide an ‘independent’ opinion on the same case. The member subsequently participated in the Committee consideration of the report prior to a recommendation to decline cover being made.
The complaint was upheld on the basis that the process, whereby one person undertook two different and potentially conflicting functions, was unreasonable in that the requirement for overt fairness had not been met. Although there was no evidence that the committee member’s view was marred by predetermination, there was a perception by the complainant that it might have been. A recommendation was made that no person with a deliberative function in the process for determining Corporation cover should be asked to provide independent advice on the same case.
ACC accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendation made that no person with deliberative function can provide independent advice on the same case as this is a conflict in function.
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.