Independence of FairWay’s ACC review service

Issued: 10 July 2018

FairWay is contracted by ACC to provide an independent dispute resolution service. As part of this service, FairWay reviews decisions made by ACC.

The media has recently published allegations that the independence of this service is compromised because ACC sets Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in its contract with FairWay, and provides feedback to FairWay on individual reviews. We reject any suggestion FairWay’s service lacks independence.

FairWay’s KPIs have been publicly available for many years, and can be viewed below. FairWay’s KPIs reflect its responsibility to deliver a high quality, accessible and timely dispute resolution service for New Zealanders.

No KPIs relating to decision outcomes exist, and we agree it would be entirely improper if they did.

ACC uses public money to contract this service; the KPIs ensure that their customers receive a quality service and that it is in the interest of the New Zealanders who need to use it. We welcome the oversight and robust requirements for the quality of our service delivery.

All FairWay reviewers are legally trained, skilled professionals who conduct their work independently and observe the rules of natural justice. Those who are practicing lawyers are additionally subject to a code of professional conduct.

FairWay reviewers are neither encouraged nor incentivised to be anything other than fully independent. Any allegation that calls this into question constitutes a serious attack on the integrity and professionalism of those reviewers. The most recent allegations are entirely without substance.

All applicants who disagree with review decisions are entitled to appeal to the Courts. If FairWay lacked independence and was being unduly influenced by ACC, one would expect to see a high percentage of review decisions overturned. However, the percentage of FairWay decisions overturned has always been very low. In the 2017/18 year, only half a percent (0.5%) of FairWay review decisions were overturned by the Courts.

It is true that there are monthly meetings between ACC and FairWay.  These meetings are directed at achieving improved service by both parties. Information received at these meetings is not used to influence review outcomes, and it is not shared with reviewers. It should also be noted that feedback can be provided by anyone involved in the case – including the ACC claimant or their representative.

Miriam Dean QC was appointed by the Government to conduct an independent review of ACC processes, including the dispute resolution service provided by FairWay. Her report of September 2016 stated:

“…This review has found nothing to suggest decision-makers (reviewers or judges) are anything but competent or impartial. The lack of independence is more perceived than real…”

In a recent High Court case, Justice Whata reached a similar conclusion, saying,

“…I am satisfied the contractual arrangements between FairWay and ACC achieve the requisite independence…”

We are absolutely confident that FairWay provides a robust and independent review process for ACC applicants.

 

Further information

Accident Compensation Act 2001 (Parliamentary Counsel Office website)

ACC Dispute Resolution (FairWay website)

FairWay review process legal and appropriate (ACC website)

Independent Review Of The ACCLAIM Otago (INC) July 2015 Report Into Accident Compensation Dispute Resolution Processes (MBIE website)

Justice Whata - O’Neill v ACC [2017] NZHC 2373 (NZLII website)

KPIs – FairWay’s ACC Review Service (PDF extract)