PIPA disclosure and de facto interrogatories

Curry v Brisbane City Council [2010] QDC 148

 

The claim involved a motor vehicle accident where a pedestrian was hit by a taxi on an intersection.  Apart from notice under the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (Qld), notice was given to the Brisbane City Council (“BCC”) as the local authority responsible for the intersection.

An application against the BCC was made in respect of disclosure of documents and answers to questions pursuant to section 27(1)(b)(i) of the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld) (“PIPA”).

In essence the nature of the disclosure sought stemmed from the following proposition:

“Your client, the Brisbane City Council, has extensive records involving injuries to pedestrians in circumstances whereby the confusing design and configuration of the roadway intersection caused or contributed to the pedestrians’ accidents.”

From this proposition a number of questions were framed requiring answers and documents.

His Honour Reid applied Jerrard JA at in Haug v Jupiters Limited (2008) 1 QdR 276 (paragraphs 23, 24 and 26):

[53] It is important to appreciate that the test is directed towards whether facts concern the circumstances of, or reasons for the accident in the sense used by Jerrard JA in paragraph [26] of his judgement in Haug (supra). Information about, inter alia, the causes of the incident, or facts to when the occurrence of the accident might be attributed, may be required to be given, but not all information relevant to the claim falls within the ambit of s 27(1)(b)(i) of the Act. The claimant must define his request for information to the “fact(s) to which the occurrence of the accident might be attributed” (see per Ambrose J in Bowers & RACQ GIO Insurance Ltd v. Ogilvie [2001] QSC 36 at paragraph [26]).

[54] Information, for example, relevant to the respondent’s knowledge about its duty of care to the applicant, can be seen to be outside the ambient of inquiry under s 27. The information sought and denied about trainings of and complaints concerning security guards in Haug (supra) or about other altercations in Oliver (supra) can be seen in this light.

His Honour also followed the approach taken by his Honour McGill DCJ in Wright v KB Nut Holdings Pty Ltd [2010] QDC 91 at paragraph 34 and 37.  I refer to my earlier posting in this respect.

Conclusion

[60] For the reasons I have given, the questions do not seek information in the respondent’s possession about the circumstances of, or the reasons for, the incident, within the meaning of s 27(1)(b)(i) of the Act. Rather, they are questions, essentially in the form of interrogatories, designed to establish that the respondent owed a duty of care to the applicant. They are not directed to the actual cause of the accident itself.

Brisbane Barrister – David Cormack

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