WCRA: Judicial Review & evidentiary basis for decision

Zecevic v Simon Blackwood (Workers’ Compensation Regulator) & Anor [2015] QSC 232

The applicant sought a judicial review of a decision made by the Medical Assessment Tribunal (Tribunal) that the applicant’s autoimmune disorder of diffuse scleroderma was not work related. There was competing medical evidence as to whether it was. The applicant submitted pursuant to s 20(2)(f) of the Judicial Review Act the Tribunal’s decision lacked evidentiary basis to form their conclusions of:[5]

(a) the applicant’s level of exposure was low and at a level unlikely to cause end organ damage;

(b) the applicant’s latent period was below the median latency period reported in the relevant literature;

(c) the aetiology of scleroderma remains unknown; and

(d) the combination of (a) and (b) made it unlikely that his silica exposure during his employment contributed to the development of his scleroderma.

His Honour Philip McMurdo J dismissed the application after considering the competing medical evidence and the relevant standard of proof, finding:

[39] Indisputably, the Tribunal was performing its proper role in its consideration of whether the applicant was suffering from scleroderma. In my view, it was also doing so in considering, by the application of the professional knowledge and experience of its members, whether the disease had been caused by the applicant’s employment. The absence of a known aetiology did not mean that the Tribunal’s decision was made beyond its role as the decision maker for medical matters. Whether the disease had resulted from the applicant’s employment was a medical matter, which was the subject of evidence from two doctors, each of whom expressed a professional opinion. For example, Dr Douglas reasoned by reference to factors which included the lack of any respiratory symptoms or evidence of silicosis or other occupation-related lung damage. The argument that the Tribunal strayed into non-medical matters cannot be accepted.

David Cormack – Brisbane Barrister & Mediator

 

 

 

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