A district court judge has upheld an appeal by Dunedin
ACC claimant Dr Denise Powell against being required to sign an
ACC consent form in a case with ''serious ramifications'' for
Two just-released decisions from the district court say ACC
acted unlawfully when it told two clients they must sign a
consent form gathering private information or face having
their claims cut off.
One case involved Dr Powell, a member of ACC lobby group
Acclaim Otago, and the other a client with a traumatic brain
Judge Grant Powell heard both cases, upheld both appeals and
awarded costs against ACC.
Peter Sara, a Dunedin lawyer specialising in ACC work,
estimated that there were ''hundreds of thousands'' of ACC
consent forms which had now been found to be illegal.
ACC claimants had been forced to sign the forms, known as ACC
167, which had now been found to be not in keeping with ACC's
own laws, he said.
Mr Sara said that insisting that everyone sign an unmodified
ACC 167 form had been part of an ''obsession with
compliance'' at ACC, and the corporation now faced a
It would be a ''wrong move'' for ACC to appeal the court
judgements, and the corporation would be viewed more
positively if it admitted it had made some mistakes but was
now rectifying them.
A key priority for ACC should now be to identify any
claimants who had been disadvantaged by their unwillingness
to sign the 167 form, including people who had been removed
from ACC coverage, he said.
ACC senior media adviser Stephanie Melville said in a
statement that the ACC 167 ''consent to collect'' form was
''usable and not illegal''.
The court found the form ACC was asking clients to sign
''went beyond statutory requirements, and therefore ACC
couldn't decline entitlements simply because a client
declined to sign the consent form'', Ms Melville said.
The court had upheld ACC's right to collect medical and other
records that were or might be relevant to their claim.
''We are amending the relevant processes to address the
matters raised by the court,'' she said.
Dr Powell welcomed the court finding, which had brought a
positive end to ''a slow process'' involving her appeal over
having to sign a form which impinged on her rights to
informed consent over her medical records.
Judge Powell said the appellant had been injured in an
accident in 1989, and had for some time previously signed an
ACC 167 consent form which she had modified to allow her to
be advised which medical records were being accessed and for
The judge said that ACC law authorised ACC to ''obtain
medical and other records that are or may be relevant to the
claim'', but the consent form used a broader term involving
''information'', which was ''considerably more extensive''
than the medical record data specified in the law.
The appeal decision would have ''serious ramifications'' for
ACC, and ''it will be important that a new consent form is
developed as quickly as possible'', he said.