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The Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, which is now the Accident Compensation Act 2001, is obviously a statute. Statutes require interpretation. Interpretation is provided by the Judges. We see their interpretations within the common law.

Judges make their interpretations based on barrister input and the ‘language, purpose and context’ of the statute. Lord Atkin’s dissent in Liversidge v Anderson [1942];

“I view with apprehension the attitude of Judges who on the mere question of construction, when face-to-face with claims involving the liberty of the subject, show themselves more executive minded than the executive.”

He quoted Humpty Dumpty;

I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory’ Alice said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!” “But glory doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument'”, Alice objected. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many very different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.” Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. “They’ve a temper, some of them – particularly verbs, they’re the proudest – adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs – however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”

humpty-dumpty

So when arguing a case, or review, the starting point is always the statutory language, and gleaning the purpose through case law as laid down by their Honours. This is the skill that the barrister [or barrister to be] brings to the table in opposing ACC and their Case Manager’s interpretation or policy. Very often ACC policy does not follow the legislation. In those cases, ACC lose.

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