Case Law and Appeal Decisions

FairWay maintains a searchable index of several informative decisions that have been made at review.  Please use the search options below to find more information.


Alternatively an ACC appeal decisions database is available through the New Zealand Legal Information Institute (NZLII). 

Price [2017] NZACC 148

Summary: 

Judge Powell – Vocational Independence. Mr Price worked in the information technology field when he suffered injuries to his shoulder and neck, covered by ACC. He developed chronic neck pain and became incapacitated from working full-time. It was accepted that Mr Price could not return to his pre-injury work and ACC focussed on assisting Mr Price vocationally independent in other work types. Based on subsequent vocational assessments ACC determined that Mr Price was able to work in four work types: ICT Project Manager; ICT Systems Test Engineer; ICT Quality Assurance Engineer and ICT Support Engineer. Mr Price challenged the decision. Review -The reviewer found that ICT Systems Engineer was similar to Mr Price’s pre-injury work and modified ACC’s decision by excluding it, but found Mr Price capable of working in the three remaining fields. Appeal -  The Court allowed the appeal on multiple grounds:

  • ICT quality assurance engineer and ICT support engineer was also similar to Mr Prices pre-injury work.
  • The Vocational Independence Occupational Assessment (VIOA) was flawed. There was evidence that Mr Price required additional training which the VIOA assessor had failed to consider.
  • The Vocational Independence Medical Assessment (VIMA) did not provide clear, coherent and transparent analysis why Mr Price was medically suited to work in the identified areas.
  • The VIMA was also flawed as it considered and given weight to a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE). The Court noted that there was expert evidence before it that FCE results are not valid within the context of chronic pain, as in the case of Mr Price.

A full copy of the Court decision is available here.

L [2017] NZACC 147

Summary: 

Judge Powell – Treatment injury. L had spinal surgery in 2010. Following the surgery L suffered paralysis of her right leg and loss of bladder control and claimed treatment injury cover for these conditions. ACC accepted that L had suffered a personal injury caused by the surgery, but found that the conditions suffered were an ordinary consequence of the surgery. Appeal – noted that ACC interpreted ordinary consequence as something unremarkable, the Court rejected this as too narrow. The Court confirmed some experiential foundation needs to be used to determine whether a consequence is ordinary or not. The Court assessed the medical evidence and preferred the view of neurosurgeon, Mr Johnson. Mr Johnson opined that notwithstanding the difficulty and comparative rarity of the surgery a positive outcome was nonetheless likely and that L’s injuries cannot be described as an ordinary consequence of the surgery. The Court allowed the appeal.

A full copy of the Court decision is available here.

Sigglekow [2017] NZACC 144

Summary: 

Judge Henare – Entitlement to surgery. Mr Sigglekow injured his right shoulder in 2015, covered by ACC as a sprain. An MRI subsequently confirmed the presence of two shoulder tendon tears. Mr Sigglekow’s surgeon proposed to repair the tears surgically and associated the cause of the tears with the 2015 accident. ACC obtained medical opinions and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to link the cause of the tears with the accident. ACC declined the funding request. Appeal – the Court preferred the treating surgeons view and allowed the appeal.

A full copy of the Court decision is available here.

Paku [2017] NZACC 143

Summary: 

Judge Henare – Revocation of cover and suspension of entitlements. Mr Paku sustained a head injury in 2015, covered by ACC as post-concussion syndrome and “right sided head injury”. In July 2016, ACC revoked the cover for post-concussion syndrome and suspended Mr Paku’s entitlements. Appeal – The court confirmed that there was insufficient medical evidence to support a finding that Mr Paku had sustained accident related post-concussion syndrome and upheld ACC revocation decision. However, it quashed te suspension decision as the medical evidence was equivocal whether Mr Paku’s ongoing symptoms was due to his head injury.

A full copy of the Court decision is available here.

Bunker [2017] NZACC 142

Summary: 

Judge Henare – Costs. ACC suspended Ms Bunker’s filed a review against ACC’s decision to suspend her entitlements. Prior to the hearing ACC revoked its suspension decision and reinstated Ms Bunkers entitlements. Ms Bunker subsequently withdrew her review application and claimed payment of her incurred legal fees of $2.633.50. She requested ACC to liaise with her lawyer as the process was too stressful. The reviewer accepted the withdrawal and awarded costs in accordance with the cost regulations to the maximum amount of $350.00. Ms Bunker contested the cost decision and claimed full payment of her incurred legal costs. Appeal – The Court recognised that the cost regulations limited the amount a reviewer can award and that the reviewer’s costs decision was correct. However, the Court found that once the withdrawal was filed a second stage began that required the involvement of Ms Bunker’s lawyer to assist ACC in calculating the weekly compensation due. Based on this additional legal work the Court allowed the appeal as it believed it to be reasonable and fair for ACC to fund those costs.

A full copy of the Court decision is available here.

Peters [2017] NZACC 75

Summary: 

Judge Henare – Entitlements – ACC declined an independence allowance and lump sum entitlement for injuries from accidents suffered by Mr Peters in 1986 and 2005. The Court identified that a 2010 impairment assessment was uncertain as to the scope of the claimant’s injury cover. The Court confirmed that this uncertainty created an unreliable factual basis for that assessment and subsequent assessments that considered it. ACC directed to investigate the scope of the Applicant’s cover.

A full copy of the Court decision is available here.

Fryer [2017] NZACC 68

Summary: 

Judge Powell – Entitlements – Mr Fryer was involved on a motor accident in 2007 and suffered a back injury. In 2014 Mr Fryer’s surgeon proposed surgery to repair damage to his lumbar 4/5. ACC declined the surgery request as radiological imaging, taken after the accident, did not report damage to the lumbar spine. Appeal - Allowed - further investigations showed that ACC had afforded Mr Fryer injury cover, after the 2007 accident, for an open fractured lumbar vertebra. ACC had not revoke this cover and as a matter of law Mr Fryer remained eligible to entitlements to treat the covered injury.

A full copy of the Court decision is available here.

Toomey [2017] NZACC 44

Summary: 

Judge Mathers -  Mental injury cover. Applicant is a self-employed builder who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after assisting emergency services in the Christchurch earthquake.  ACC declined cover for PTSD as the applicant has not suffered the mental injury at his place of employment (S 28) Review -  The applicant was acting as a volunteer and the PTSD was therefore not suffered because of a work-related accident. The applicant was not engaged in work for pecuniary gain and neither was he at a place of employment. Held – When the Fire Department requested the applicant to assist he became an agent for them, which means that the applicant was working at the direction of the fire service and not in the normal sense of a volunteer. People in the applicant’s position does not have to charge for their time in every situation for employment to be maintained. The applicant was an employee of his company and still received pecuniary gain (from his own business) although not at the particular place of work.

A full copy of the Court decision is available here.

Redacted case 585

Type of claim: 
CoverPlus, Elective surgery - causation
Outcome: 
Application to review dismissed
Summary: 

Treatment injury, prolapse, causation

Redacted case 467

Type of claim: 
Elective surgery - causation
Outcome: 
ACC decision quashed
Summary: 

Directions, left knee, knee replacement, causation

Redacted case 380

Type of claim: 
Elective surgery - causation, Suspension of entitlements
Outcome: 
Application to review dismissed
Summary: 

Lumbar, surgery, suspension, Ellwood

Redacted case 351

Type of claim: 
Elective surgery - causation
Outcome: 
Application to review dismissed
Summary: 

Shoulder, surgery, causation

Redacted case 282

Type of claim: 
Elective surgery - causation
Outcome: 
Application to review dismissed
Summary: 

Shoulder surgery

Redacted case 82

Type of claim: 
Elective surgery - causation
Outcome: 
ACC decision quashed
Summary: 

Back injury, causation, surgery