Timeframes to be imposed for making initial and reviewable decisions under the SRC Act from 1 April 202408 February 2024
On 13 December 2023, the Australian Government announced an amendment to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Regulations 2019 through the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Period for Decision-making) Regulations 2023 (the Regulations).
The Regulations will commence on 1 April 2024 and apply to Comcare and all self-insurer licensees under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (the SRC Act).
The Regulations mandate determining authorities to determine certain claims for compensation under the SRC Act, within prescribed timeframes, where those claims relate to:
- A claim for compensation made on or after 1 April 2024 under s 14 of the SRC Act (being a claim that initial liability be accepted) made in accordance with s 54 of the SRC Act (s 14 claim):
- 20 calendar days for claims made in respect of an injury (other than a disease) or an aggravation of an injury (other than a disease), starting on the day the determining authority receives the claim.
- 60 calendar days for claims made in respect of a disease, starting on the day the determining authority receives the claim.
- A request to reconsider a decision under ss 38 or 62 of the SRC Act made by a claimant on or after 1 April 2024 (reconsideration request).
- 30 calendar days, starting on the day the determining authority receives the request.
Notwithstanding this, ‘stop clock’ provisions will apply when determining s 14 claims (not reconsideration requests) in the following circumstances:
The Regulations are silent on what will happen when a determining authority has failed to decide a s 14 claim or reconsideration request within the statutory timeframe. We expect this issue may be given further consideration by parliament in due course.
If a determining authority fails to decide a reconsideration request within the statutory timeframe, s 25(5) of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (AAT Act) operates to deem the determining authority to have made a decision at the end of the time period to not reconsider the determination or cause the determination to be reconsidered. This type of decision is 'deemed' to have been made by virtue of s 25(5) of the AAT Act and is reviewable by the AAT under s 64 of the SRC Act.
This avenue of an application to the Tribunal would only apply to reviewable decisions that are not made within time and will not be available in situations where a determination is made under s 14 of the SRC Act outside the time limits.
Where determinations and reviewable decisions are outside time limits, recourse in the Federal Court or Federal Circuit and Family Court is still likely to remain available under s 7 of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977.