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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2431 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

the rear seat of a car that is hit by another car that has travelled through a red light would have little difficulty in rebutting the presumption.

Thirdly, the bill establishes a presumption of contributory negligence by a person who chooses to rely on the skill and care of a person they know to be intoxicated.

Finally, the bill establishes a presumption of contributory negligence in the case of a person who does not adhere to specified safety rules, such as wearing a seatbelt, wearing a required helmet or being a passenger in or on a motor vehicle that has a passenger compartment and not being in the passenger compartment.

The chapter consolidates reforms that allow a court to award compensation for the loss of capacity to perform household or domestic services. The chapter also introduces an important platform that will be built on in the second stage of reforms.

At this stage, the legislation abolishes restrictions under the common law to award damages by way of annuity, more recently called a "structured settlement". The annuity pays the injured party a set amount at regular intervals, either for life or up to a set date. Structured settlements provide an alternative to lump sum settlements as a means of personal injury compensation. Structured settlements provide for the periodic payment of damages throughout the life of an injured person, removing the uncertainty inherent in any assessment of an injured person's life expectancy. It will reduce the possibility that the compensation awarded is mismanaged and lost to the plaintiff.

Finally, the chapter provides that a court could make a finding of liability on a claim for damages, independently of making an award for damages. Such a power may assist parties to resolve present issues of liability while waiting for injuries to stabilise before finally settling the matter.

Chapter 5 consolidates the defamation reforms passed by the Assembly in 2001 into the bill. This continues the process begun in the reforms of more closely orienting this area of law with the law of civil wrongs. Chapter 6 provides a modern restatement of the defence for an action for trespass to land. Chapter 7 provides a modern form of the old imperial law that ameliorated the strict liability placed on innkeepers and common carriers by the common law-hence my earlier reference to one of the issues that the Samaritan might face today. It does not at this stage codify the ancient and extensive law that otherwise applies to these businesses.

Chapter 8 provides a new statutory formulation of the existing law concerned with occupiers' liability. It also consolidates the rules relating to damages caused by animals and in relation to accidental fires. Chapter 9 consolidates the existing law dealing with misrepresentation.

Chapter 10 imposes a number of limits on legal costs. ACT lawyers' fees are highly regulated and subject to review by the courts. In addition to this, the bill limits legal costs in claims for $100,000 or less: in such cases, the total costs for the plaintiff's lawyers cannot exceed the greater of $10,000 or 20 per cent. The government recognises that there is sometimes no nexus between the amount awarded and the costs of recovering the award. But, again, most cases will be completed for less than these figures. In the

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