The Cost of Doing (WorkCover) Business

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.

The information published on this website is of a general nature and should not be construed as legal advice. Whilst we aim to provide timely, relevant and accurate information, the law may change and circumstances may differ. You should not therefore act in reliance on it without first obtaining specific legal advice.