Proposed legislation to change the NSW Compulsory Third Party (CTP) scheme has drawn a strong reaction from the legal industry.
NSW premier Barry O’Farrell and minister for finance and services Greg Pearce announced the government’s plans in a joint statement released on February 17.
The government has proposed a ‘no fault’ scheme, which Mr Pearce said would “significantly reduce long and costly disputes” and help those injured on the roads get faster access to car accident compensation.
“CTP in NSW is the least affordable in Australia and will only get worse unless we change it,” said Mr Pearce.
Premier O’Farrell said that currently, NSW motorists pay on average $500 a year for CTP insurance, which is in some cases up to $260 more than other states.
“The NSW government’s proposed green slip changes could reduce the cost of the average CTP premium by about 15 per cent and ensure claimants receive benefits as soon as possible,” said Mr O’Farrell in a statement.
The NSW Bar Association responded to the government’s plans, calling them “radical” in a statement also released on February 17.
“The government’s plan to introduce a no-fault scheme will deny accident victims legal representation and endanger their right to proper compensation,” said president of the NSW Bar Association Phillip Boulten SC.
Mr Boulten suggested that the government was erroneously blaming legal costs for increases in green slip prices, when in fact recent figures from the Motor Accidents Authority indicate that legal costs have actually decreased over the last four years.
Instead, the bar association president suggested that insurers were the ones reaping the benefits.
“Over the last decade insurers have retained profits on average over 20 per cent. These super profits are projected to exceed $1.5 billion,” explained Mr Boulten.
The bar association urged the government to “engage in a meaningful discussion” on the subject of the rights of the injured and insurer profits under the CTP scheme.
Mr Boulten says the proposed scheme would leave victims to contest compensation cases with insurers on their own.
The NSW Bar Association contends that the Motor Accident Authority’s own research indicates that those without representation receive “significantly less compensation” in cases involving the same injuries as do those with legal representation.
Anyone injured in an accident on NSW roads should talk to compensation lawyers about their entitlements under the NSW motor accidents compensation scheme.