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Tribunal finds ACC inconsistent w Bill of Rights

Human Rights Commission
Media Release
Monday, 19 May,

Tribunal finds ACC inconsistent with Bill of Rights

A human rights tribunal ruling has found that a section of Accident Compensation law is inconsistent with the right to freedom from discrimination as affirmed in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, 1990.

If unchallenged, the decision means the Minister for Accident Compensation Maryan Street will have to report to Parliament on how to address the inconsistency.

The decision was in response to a claim by plaintiff John Howard before the Human Rights Review Tribunal in Wellington on 15 May.

Mr Howard suffered an arm injury that required weekly compensation and vocational rehabilitation. When he became eligible for superannuation weekly compensation halted. Mr Howard had no issue with that, but maintained that he should continue to receive vocational rehabilitation. He felt the end of vocational rehabilitation hampered his ability to seek further work and constituted discrimination on the grounds of his age.

This is the first time that the Tribunal has made a declaration of inconsistency since the Human Rights Act was amended to allow them in 2001.

In welcoming the decision Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said, “This decision is a landmark in human rights law in that it shows how any New Zealander can challenge legislation they believe to be discriminatory and impacts upon them adversely.”

The decision concludes, “We are satisfied that the challenged legislation (s.85 and cl.52 of the Injury Prevention Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2001) is inconsistent with the right to freedom from discrimination affirmed by section 19 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and is not within any reasonable limit to that freedom as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

The Human Rights Review Tribunal hears human rights cases and is the jurisdictional equivalent of a district court. The Crown has the right to appeal the decision.


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