Other questions about ACC reviews

Here are some answers to questions we are often asked about ACC reviews.

Yes. Reviewers are required under ACC legislation to keep an accurate record of the evidence given at the hearing. For this reason, all hearings are recorded on a digital audio recorder. The hearings are kept for two years for appeal purposes.

All parties should prepare their submissions (arguments) well beforehand. The party or the party's representative can read out or give spoken submissions, or they can be written and then presented at the hearing. To allow the parties and the reviewer adequate time to prepare, you should provide written submissions at least three working days before the hearing.

Any party can present evidence (both written and oral, such as with a witness) at the hearing. Parties providing additional evidence should make the evidence available to all parties to the review and to FairWay Resolution as soon as it becomes available so that everyone has adequate time to prepare. Where possible, this means that written evidence should be provided at least 14 days before the hearing.

Important points about submissions:

  • any person giving oral evidence may be asked to take an "oath" or "affirmation" (promise to tell the truth)
  • written evidence can be affidavit or declaration - which is a written and signed statement that has been witnessed by a solicitor or a Justice of the Peace - or be unsworn, such as a letter or note signed and dated by the writer, but not necessarily witnessed
  • written evidence may include specialist assessments, doctors' reports, other medical opinions, costs information, and other documents that help establish the applicant's case
  • If evidence or written submissions are presented for the first time at the actual review hearing, it may lead to the hearing being adjourned part-heard

Case conferences aim to take care of anything before the review hearing itself, so the review can go to hearing and be conducted promptly, efficiently, and fairly.

The reviewer decides whether a case conference is appropriate and contacts the parties (usually by phone) to talk about things like:

  • does everyone understand the issues in the review?
  • is everyone ready to proceed? If not, to set deadlines for having everything ready
  • does anyone have special needs in relation to the hearing?
  • was the review application lodged more than three months after the date of ACC's decision?

They may also discuss whether the parties would, instead of a review hearing, prefer a decision 'on the papers' (a decision based on documents provided by the parties).

After the case conference, all parties are sent a summary of the case conference, including written confirmation of any agreements reached and decisions the reviewer has made.

Case conferences, and the hearing itself, may take place by telephone if all or any of the participants ateend over the telephone. The reviewer makes the final decision about whether this will happen. Anyone can ask to attend a hearing via telephone by making a written request, with reasons, at least 10 working days before the hearing.

Disruptive behaviour is not tolerated. Everyone at the hearing is expected to be courteous and follow the reviewer's instructions. You should behave appropriately and not interrupt when someone else is speaking.

If someone behaves inappropriately, the reviewer can:

  • ask them to leave the room;
  • adjourn the hearing briefly if time permits to allow the person time to regain their composure, and
  • end the hearing and make their decision on the material that is already available. A security guard may also be present at the hearing.

If someone does not turn up at the hearing and does not have a reasonable excuse, the reviewer can make their decision anyway. If any of the parties say in advance that they do not intend to come to the hearing, the reviewer will make a decision in their absence.

If you cannot attend the hearing because of illness or an emergency, for example, you must:

  • get in touch with FairWay Resolution before the hearing to let them know that you cannot attend, or
  • get someone to go to the hearing for you and ask the reviewer to reschedule.

If the reviewer decides the hearing date cannot be rescheduled, or in their opinion should not be adjourned, the process will continue without you.

Everyone involved in the hearing is entilted to see all information the reviewer used to make their decision. However, this information is confidential and can't be used for anything else outside the review. If the hearing involves a work-related injury, relevant information from the applicant's file may be shown to their employer (or to previous employers if they could be affected by the decision).

Applicants do not pay a fee to FairWay Resolution to handle their reviews. However, applicants need to cover their own expenses to prepare for and attend the review. Some costs may be reimbursed, if the reviewer awards costs to the applicant. The specific amounts of money that can be awarded, and the types of costs covered, are set out in the Reviewer Costs and Appeals Regulations 2002 (as amended).

A reviewer can award costs for legal representation, medical reports, transport costs and other reasonable expenses associated with a hearing.

For example, under current costs regulations:

  • applicants may be awarded up to a maximum of approximately $935 for a specialist medical report;
  • if an applicant hires a lawyer or advocate, the applicant may be reimbursed up to a maximum of approximately $350 for the time the lawyer or advocate spent preparing for the review; and
  • if an applicant has to travel by car to attend the hearing, the applicant can be reimbursed 29 cents per kilometre, up to a maximum amount of approximately $153.

If you want specific information about costs please check with you legal representative, get in touch with FairWay Resolution or go to the legislation.govt.nz website.

Hearings are usually scheduled in one-hour time blocks – some only take a few minutes while others take much longer. It is important to allow plenty of time for delays on the day of the hearing.

Disruptive behaviour is not tolerated. Everyone at the hearing is expected to be courteous and follow the reviewer’s instructions. This includes not interrupting when someone else is speaking, and behaving appropriately.

If someone behaves inappropriately, the reviewer can:

  • ask them to leave the room
  • adjourn the hearing briefly if time permits, to allow the person time to regain their composure
  • end the hearing and make their decision on the material that is already available.

A security guard may also be present at the hearing.

Yes. If the review hearing is adjourned, that means it will be delayed. If anyone cannot come to a hearing on the scheduled date, they need to let FairWay Resolution know in writing before that date to explain why and ask for the hearing to be delayed.

You should clearly explain:

  • why you cannot attend the hearing (for example, because of a family bereavement or illness); and
  • the earliest date you are available for a new hearing.

The reviewer will then consider the request and whether any of the other parties either agree or disagree with the delay. The hearing can only be delayed – ‘adjourned’ – by the reviewer. If the hearing is adjourned, FairWay Resolution will send a letter to all parties explaining why. In most cases, a new hearing date will be provided.

It’s important to note that not all requests to adjourn a review hearing are granted, and everyone should be prepared to go ahead with the hearing on the scheduled date. If the parties cannot agree to a hearing date and time, the reviewer will choose a new date and time.

Please note that adjourning the review hearing before it has started is different from adjourning a review hearing that has already started. If the review hearing has already started and is adjourned by the reviewer, that is called a “part-heard” adjournment and is discussed in the The Review Hearing section of this booklet.

Yes. If the applicant does not want to carry on with their review application, it can be withdrawn. This can be done at any time before the hearing. The applicant does not have to give a reason why.

To withdraw a review, the applicant must write to their ACC case manager or FairWay Resolution’s Coordinator to let them know that the review is withdrawn. A phone call beforehand is also a good idea.

Everyone involved in the hearing is entitled to see all the information the reviewer used to make their decision. FairWay Resolution keeps this information confidential.

If the hearing involves a work-related injury, relevant information from the applicant’s file may be shown to their employer (or to previous employers if they could be affected by the decision).

Remember to notify us as your contact information changes, so FairWay Resolution can ensure your information is always delivered to the correct address.