Author: Michael Li
Judgment date: 9 June 2020
Citation: Insurance Australia Ltd t/as NRMA Insurance v Wannous  NSWSC 694
Jurisdiction: Supreme Court of New South Wales1
"I ha(ve) read the material and I will be issuing a preliminary conference report indicating that I decline to recommend that the matter be exempt from assessment. I will not be providing reasons…."By summons filed with the Supreme Court, NRMA challenged this decision on the basis that the Claims Assessor had an implied obligation to give reasons for his decision but failed to do so.
The Supreme Court noted the primary function of claims assessors is that conferred by s94(1) of MACA, namely the making of an assessment on the issue of liability and damages. It is well established that such a function is "judicial" in nature and, as such requires reasons to be given to support decisions made (Campbelltown City Council v Vegan & Ors (2006) 67 NSWLR 372;  NSWCA 284.
Justice Beech-Jones reasoned, at :
"….. given that the decision under s 92(1)(b) is made by a claims assessor who undertakes a function that is “judicial in nature” under s 94(1), that the decision requires a preliminary exercise of that function and the making an evaluation of the suitability of the claim for determination under the MACA, it follows that a determination by a claims assessor under s 92(1)(b) to either exempt or decline to exempt a claim from assessment also involves the exercise of a function that is “judicial in nature” and is subject to an implied duty to give reasons."The Court ordered that the Claims Assessor's decision be set aside.
The rule also applies to DRS Claims Assessors who make decisions pursuant to the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017.
If decisions are made by Claims Assessors that either are not supported by reasons, or lack adequate reasons, they may be open to challenge.
1 Beech-Jones J