PUBLIC LIABILITY May 2002

Better Business May 02

PUBLIC LIABILITY May 2002

In Parliament the Carr Government released a draft Civil Liability Bill to implement stage one of the tort law reforms announced by Premier Carr in 20 March this year. Therefore the reforms in the Bill will apply to all claims from 20 March 2002 - it will be retrospective from this date.

Premier Carr outlined the following aspects, saying the Bill will;
tighten controls on the calculation of damages, fixes the maximum amount of damages for pain and suffering and for loss of earnings. prohibits the award of interest on damages for non-economic loss,
provides for the reduction of damages for economic loss to better take into account the uncertainties of life. prescribes a more realistic rate for damages and prohibits the courts from awarding exemplary or punitive damages. imposes additional requirements on lawyers to ensure they are punished if they encourage unmeritorious claims. prohibits barristers and solicitors from providing legal services to a plaintiff if they have no reasonable grounds for believing that the claim could succeed. A breach of this prohibition could constitute professional misconduct. Plaintiff's lawyers will be required to certify that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the claim could succeed before they lodge the claims. limits the costs plaintiff's lawyers are allowed to charge for smaller claims. This will stop over-servicing on small claims. It will prevent legal costs forming such a large proportion of small claims and driving up insurance costs.

The Bill is stage one of the Government's tort law reform program. Stage two will address other issues including protection for good Samaritans, structured settlements and a wider range of options for damages awards.

As the Government has stated that it will be pursuing broad-ranging reforms to the law of negligence in the next session, which resumes on 28 May 2002, the Coalition is urging as much public comment as possible from the public, stakeholders and industry associated representatives. Those interested in viewing a copy of Hansard and the Bill can access these through www.parliament.nsw.gov.au or by contacting my office on 6621 3624.

Small Business Work Experience

As previously mentioned in my last column, May was Small Business month and during this time I participated in the inaugural "Pollies for Small Business". On two separate days, I enjoyed the opportunity to undertake `work experience' at Woody's Sports Shoes, Sista's Caf‚ and Recycled Sports in Lismore, then in Casino at Mitre 10 and in Kyogle at the IGA Supermarket. This activity was a wonderful opportunity renewed past experiences, enabling my interaction with local small business owners but also the chance to meet many people who were not be expecting to be greeted or have their lunch served by their local member.


Lismore Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403
Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Murwillumbah Contact Details:

Telephone: 02 6672 7577