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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2500 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

The bill also allows for the use of structured settlements, to ensure the future wellbeing of somebody who is injured. A time limit is set for the making of a claim under this bill-that is, three years from the date the injury occurred, or the date the injury became apparent. People will not be able to make a claim for compensation for permanent injury until two years after the original claim, except in cases of obvious catastrophic injury. A claim will be deemed to have been accepted by an insurer if it is not rejected within 28 days.

Mr Speaker, this bill will give the minister the power to approve insurers, and will also make it compulsory for businesses to have public liability insurance. People will still be able to apply to the common law, once they have participated in the rest of the process. Again, this is modelled on the Workers Compensation Act-and, indeed, the AAT can review all decisions.

Ultimately, the biggest saving as a result of my reforms will be in human terms. Someone who has been injured and is rehabilitated will enjoy a better quality of life than someone who is left isolated and unsupported with their pot of gold, which gradually vanishes as the bills come in.

Mr Quinlan: Mr Speaker, I move that this bill be dismissed out of hand.

MR SPEAKER: I am sure you really wanted to adjourn it, Mr Quinlan.

Debate (on motion by Mr Quinlan ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Legal Practitioners Amendment Bill 2002

Mr Smyth, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR SMYTH (10.49): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, I believe that the no-win, no-pay syndrome that seems to be infecting the country is a reflection of the more litigious nature of our society as it evolves. This bill seeks to remove the ability to advertise no-win, no-pay solutions. It seems to me that, before this advertising was allowed, the number of claims which went through to the court system was less. One of the adverse effects of no-win, no-pay advertising is to clog the court system.

Advertising clearly adds to the costs of claims. The advertisements have to be paid for, and those costs are passed on to the claimants. The removal of this advertising, I believe, will allow for genuine cases to come forward more regularly-and it should have the effect of reducing the costs of these services to clients.

Debate (on motion by Mr Quinlan ) adjourned to the next sitting.

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