The Workers’ Compensation (Legal Practitioners and Registered Agents) Costs Determination 2015 came into effect on 1 July 2015. This new determination applies to the remuneration of legal practitioners and registered agents for work carried out in WorkCover WA proceedings from 1 July 2015.
As to the scale of the maximum hours a legal practitioner or registered agent may charge in relation to conciliation, arbitration and stand-alone items, the following changes were made:
- Under Item 3 (resolution of a dispute after lodging a conciliation application and before a conciliation conference, including all necessary preparation and the approved documentation), the old determination allowed 2 hours. The new determination allows 3 hours.
- Under Item 6 (resolution of a dispute after the lodging of an arbitration application and before the arbitration hearing, including all necessary preparation and the approved documentation and attendance at directions hearings), the old determination allowed 5 hours. The new determination allows 6 hours.
For every additional directions hearing and interlocutory application, the old determination also allowed 1 hour. The new determination allows 2 hours per additional directions hearing and 3 hours per additional interlocutory application.
- The only other change of significance is that in the old determination, Items 1 to 4 inclusive of the scale (Item 1 – obtaining instructions from client and attempts to resolve the dispute by negotiation before involvement in proceedings, Item 2 – preparation of and lodging a conciliation application including relevant approved supporting documentation, Item 3 – see paragraph 1 above, Item 4 – where a dispute is resolved at or after a conciliation conference, including all necessary preparation and documentation) were consecutive and cumulative milestones, the new determination provides only that Items 1 and 2 are consecutive and cumulative.
For example; to recover for legal or agent services provided under Item 4, the legal practitioner or registered agent must first provide the legal or agent services described in Items 1 and 2 inclusive. Further, Items 3 and 4 are not claimable cumulatively and a claim under only one item or the other may be made.
In practical terms this means instead of being able to claim a maximum of 18 hours for Items 1 to 4, it will now only be possible to claim either 10 or 15 hours.
It therefore appears, from an employer/insurer perspective, that what the Costs Committee has given with one hand (reducing the opportunity for legal practitioners or agents to charge for Items 1 to 4 on a consecutive and cumulative basis) it has taken with the other (increasing the hours which are now recoverable under Items 3 and 6).
As Punch put it, somewhat of a “curate’s egg” perhaps – good in parts?
For more information on this update or any other insurance matter please contact Stephen Williams on (08) 9321 3755.
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