Section 279 ‘fishing expeditions’ curtailed22 December 2016 Topics: Workers’ compensation
In a recent decision, the Queensland Court of Appeal has upheld a narrow interpretation of section 279 of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) restricting the scope of information required to be provided under that section.
Section 279 imposes a duty upon parties to cooperate in relation to a claim by providing documents and information about the circumstances of the incident and the claimant’s injuries.
In Healy v Logan City Council  QCA 314, the claimant’s solicitors requested an extensive list of information and documents from the insurer pursuant to section 279. Some of the requests did not relate to the circumstances of the incident or the claimant’s injuries. For example, requests were made in relation to prior incidents.
The claimant’s solicitors argued that the duty to provide information under section 279 imposed a general obligation to provide any information requested by the claimant.
The Court of Appeal disagreed with the claimant’s submissions. Instead, the Court considered the language of section 279 and determined the duty to disclose information under that section was limited to the topics outlined in the section. Specifically, the information or documentation sought must relate to the circumstances of the incident or the worker’s injury.
This decision confirms that parties do not need to respond to requests for information that fall outside of this interpretation of section 279.