Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 2 April 2009) . . Page.. 1744 ..
legislation. By contrast, the Road Transport (General) Act 1999 uses the term “responsible person” in relation to a motor vehicle, a term that is more reflective of the actual reality of vehicle drivers, registered operators, unauthorised drivers and the like.
While the two terms are essentially defined in the same way and arguably mean the same thing, in the context of the overall provisions, they remain separate nomenclature and therefore subject to potential confusion. The bill seeks to make the new CTP act consistent with the existing suite of road transport legislation by adopting the term “responsible person” as defined in the Road Transport (General) Act 1999, in place of “owner”. Consequently, it is not necessary to retain sections 12 to 14 of the act.
Additionally, section 13 of the new CTP regulation is also considered appropriate for repeal. Given the recent comments of the scrutiny of bills committee in relation to this section, I consider this bill a good opportunity to repeal the section. This provision carried over a strict liability offence that applied in cases where a rise in premium was calculated in response to a change to the construction of use of a motor vehicle. While an offence provision may in some cases serve as a deterrent, the new act now allows for a commercial solution to apply in this situation that is more appropriate and reflects modern regulatory jurisprudence. Therefore, it is not considered necessary to retain the offence under section 13.
One of the cornerstones of the new scheme is the focus on establishing a system for those who are injured in a motor accident that was efficient and facilitated timely rehabilitation and improved health outcomes. One aspect of this was to limit the fees payable to lawyers under parts 4.8 and 4.9 of the new act that was passed and brought into effect last year.
Part 4.9 of the act is clear on the costs lawyers may receive in cases where small awards of damages are made by the court, the categories being split into awards of $30,000 or less, or awards between $30,000 and $50,000. Part 4.8 of the act is also clear on the costs lawyers may receive in cases where a matter is resolved in its early stages prior to litigation, for between $30,000 and $50,000. The intention in part 4.8 of the act was that claims of the same value as those in part 4.9 that were resolved prior to litigation ought to attract similar treatment in relation to legal costs. Nevertheless, an inconsistency may exist in part 4.8 of the act that leaves the issue of lawyers’ costs potentially ambiguous in the case of claims that are resolved prior to litigation with final mandatory offers of $30,000 or less.
The amendment bill seeks to make clear and consistent the intentions of parts 4.8 and 4.9 of the act such that, if a matter is resolved at the early stages prior to the commencement of litigation for $30,000 or less, then under part 4.8 lawyers should not receive any fees. This is consistent with the new limits applied under part 4.9 to small claims that are litigated under the act with court awarded damages being $30,000 or less.
Since the new CTP act was passed in the Assembly, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal has been established. As envisaged within the occupational