The onus is on ACC to rectify big privacy-related
problems resulting from a consent form the corporation has used
unlawfully, Dunedin ACC lawyer Peter Sara says.
A district court judge has upheld an appeal by Dunedin ACC
claimant Dr Denise Powell against being required to sign an
ACC consent form, called ACC 167, in a case with ''serious
ramifications'' for ACC.
Two recently released decisions from the district court say
ACC acted unlawfully when it told two clients they must sign
the consent form gathering private information or face having
their claims halted.
One case involved Dr Powell, a member of ACC lobby group
Acclaim Otago, and the other a client with a traumatic brain
Dr Powell repeatedly refused to sign the form and first
voiced her misgivings with ACC in 2009.
Judge Grant Powell heard both cases, upheld both appeals and
awarded costs against ACC.
The judge said 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 corporation says thousands of claimants might have signed
the privacy waiver over a 14-year period.
Mr Sara acknowledged ACC had set up an 0800 number from
yesterday to allow some concerned claimants to establish
But the onus was now on ACC to rectify problems arising from
the consent form, and not simply to wait for adversely
affected clients to call, he said.
ACC had a ''clear duty to put matters right''.
It would be a bad move for ACC to attempt ''some sort of
bureaucratic side-shuffle'', rather than admitting its
There were ''hundreds of thousands'' of ACC consent forms
which had now been found to have been used illegally.
Two key priorities were for ACC to develop a new form and to
identify and contact any ACC claimants or former claimants
who had been disadvantaged by ACC's insistence on the form
Some claimants might have been wrongly excluded from ACC
cover altogether because of an unlawful use of the form, Mr
Some claimants who later agreed to sign might have lost
considerable amounts of ACC earnings-related compensation
payments, which had not been reimbursed when they regained
their coverage after signing.
It was hard to know how much was involved, but claimants
could have been denied hundreds of thousands of dollars in
earnings-related compensation and other ACC entitlements, Mr
ACC general manager, claims management, Sid Miller said on
Morning Report yesterday a new consent form was being
ACC officials also said any clients concerned about their
recent ACC 167 form should contact their case manager, in the
ACC had also established a dedicated phone line for clients
with ''historical concerns'', and people could call 0800
745-254 since yesterday.
ACC officials said it had received 14 phone calls over that
number by yesterday afternoon. Dr Powell said the corporation
could have avoided many of the recent problems if it had
heeded concerns raised by her and other claimants about the
form since 2009.