This edition was issued on 1 June 2022
Welcome to the latest edition of the Personal Injury Commission News.
This edition celebrates the opening of the Commission’s Medical Suites at 1 Oxford Street and provides details of the safety measures being employed to keep everyone working in and attending them safe.
I also provide updates on a relaxation of vaccination requirements for in-person medical assessments, changes to Procedural Directions for in-person dispute resolution events and protocols for legal practitioners to ensure that dispute resolution events held online can proceed smoothly.
I will be in touch with another edition of Personal Injury Commission News soon.
Judge Gerard Phillips
Medical Suites at 1 Oxford Street Now Open
The Commission’s Medical Suites began operation today, heralding an important milestone and an expansion of the range of services offered to Commission users. The suites, located on Level 8 at the Commission’s 1 Oxford Street Darlinghurst premises, feature seven consultation rooms for medical assessments and review panels that have been designed according to the Australasian Health Facilities Guidelines.
The assessment types being scheduled for the suites initially are those that are most in-demand as this will support our management of the medical assessments backlog.
Safety protocols have been established for medical assessments held in the suites following an extensive assessment of risks associated with the ongoing pandemic. Please ensure that claimants and workers and any support persons scheduled to attend the suites for assessment are aware of the requirements listed in the “What to Expect at your Medical Assessment” document.
Procedural Direction PIC11 – Medical Assessments Procedure – COVID-19 has been updated to reflect these requirements.
We look forward to welcoming the Medical Assessors who have signed up to assess from the suites and the injured people scheduled for assessment at the suites soon.
Unvaccinated Claimants and Workers Now Able to Attend In-Person Medical Assessments
The Commission has begun allowing in-person medical assessments for unvaccinated and part-vaccinated claimants and workers, effective 1 June 2022. These claimants and workers will only be seen by Medical Assessors who have opted-in to assess people in this category and additional controls will be in place for these assessments to keep everyone safe.
Procedural Direction PIC11 – Medical Assessments Procedure – COVID-19 has been updated to reflect the changes.
Updates to Procedural Directions for In-Person Dispute Resolution Events
Please note the following updates to the Commission’s Procedural Directions and information regarding ongoing COVID-19 safety controls for in-person dispute resolution events:
Procedural Direction WC4 – Work injury damages
WC4 has been updated to:
a. make explicit that if the mediation venue is an in-person venue, then all parties and a representative of the insurer are expected to attend in-person. In exceptional circumstances, the Division Head may excuse an in-person attendance on application by a party in writing;
b. the Commission is committed to in-person mediations for all matters, subject to the availability of venues, however, the following venue options can be used to conduct a mediation and venue selection will be determined by the Head of Division:
i. Venue 1 – In-person (when a venue is available)
ii. Venue 2 – Audio-visual link (using a Commission approved platform)
iii. Venue 3 – Audio link (using a Commission approved service)
iv. Venue 4 – Any combination of Venues 1-3.
c. in-person mediations will be subject to COVID-19 control measures and legal practitioners have duties in that regard.
Procedural Direction PIC10 - Personal Injury Commission Hearings
PIC 10 has been updated to make explicit that if the hearing venue is an in-person venue, then all parties and a representative of the insurer are expected to attend in-person. In exceptional circumstances, the Division Head may excuse an in-person attendance on application by a party in writing.
COVID-19 Safety Measures for In-Person Dispute Resolution Events
The Commission continues to monitor the application of COVID-19 control measures at its hearing, mediation and other venues. As the COVID-19 risk profile changes, the Commission will consider its application of COVID-19 control measures
Protocols for Virtual Dispute Resolution Events
While the volume of dispute resolution events being held in person will continue building gradually over the coming months as further hearing rooms that are being refurbished become available, online events will remain a key aspect of the Commission’s service offering ongoing.
To ensure that scheduled online events can proceed as smoothly and efficiently as possible, legal practitioners are asked to note and abide by the following:
- It is the legal practitioner’s responsibility to ensure that the party they represent is able to join the event from their personal device via the Microsoft Teams application. If your client is unable to download or access the application in advance of the event, please ensure that they attend your offices to join the event via Teams online.
- Legal practitioners must respect the formality of Commission proceedings and the parties involved by being appropriately dressed in business attire for all events. If a practitioner is not appropriately dressed at the commencement of an online event, the Commission’s Member, Merit Reviewer or Mediator may adjourn the event for five minutes to provide the practitioner an opportunity to change into appropriate attire.
I appreciate your assistance with these requests.
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