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ACC: Understanding the Problem and Solving the Problem (partnership project with Acclaim Otago)

ACC LogoProject staff: Warren Forster, Tom Barraclough, Tiho Mijatov, Denise Powell, Curtis Barnes, Ben Bielski

Summary

New Zealanders wanting to challenge the decisions of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) find it difficult to do so. This problem had been identified by injured people, lawyers, community groups and government agencies. The precise nature of why injured New Zealanders had this difficulty was not well understood. Government officials suggested that cost and delay were the problem, suggested a new tribunal and enforcing strict adherence to time limits.

The first part of this project, Understanding the Problem, aimed to collect and report on quality data in order to properly understand and identify the problems. The research identified four themes that operated as barriers to access to justice: access to the law, access to evidence, representation and being heard. The second part, Solving the Problem, evaluates the solutions for the problems identified.

Related Centre Objective

"To carry out research on legal issues relating to how a more accessible, affordable and efficient legal system can be created for the benefit of all citizens."

Project Overview

Understanding the Problem involved thematic analysis of barriers to access to justice present in a sample of decisions of the District Court, High Court and Court of Appeal cases between 2009 and 2014. This analysis identified four themes that operated as barriers to access to justice: access to the law, access to evidence, representation and being heard.

Understanding the Problem provided a crucial platform for persuading policy makers to take a closer look at the issues. The research had immediate impact with the Government removing the proposed changes from the legislative timetable and announcing that Miriam Dean QC would undertake an independent review the Understanding the Problem report. The Dean Report was published in September 2016 and supported the findings of the Understanding the Problem report. The Dean Report recommended a number of immediate changes to improve access to justice for ACC claimants, which the Government has accepted and is now implementing.

The Solving the Problem report evaluates the changes being made by the Government and makes further recommendations.

Research Updates

The project team has released the final report for this project.

Publications 

Forster, W., Barraclough, T. and Mijatov, T. (22 May 2017) Solving the Problem: Causation, transparency and access to justice in New Zealand's personal injury system.  [PDF 4.17MB and Appendices]

Forster, W., Barraclough, T., Mijatov, T. and Powell, D. (9 July 2015) Understanding the Problem: An analysis of ACC appeals processes to identify barriers to access to justice for injured New Zealanders.  [PDF 4.42MB] 

Mijatov, T., Barraclough, T., Forster, W. (2016) The Idea of Access to Justice. Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, 33(2), 197-229. 

Mijatov, T., Forster, W., Barraclough, T. (2016) Problems with access to law in personal injury disputes. New Zealand Universities Law Review, 27(2), 365-387.