Blackwood v Pearce [2015] ICQ 012

The Industrial Court of Queensland has considered the power of the Workers’ Compensation Regulator (Regulator) to extend the time for applying for review of a decision under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) (WCRA).

Under section 542(2) and (3) of the WCRA, the Regulator may grant a request for an extension to apply for review of a decision by WorkCover or a self-insurer:

  1. if it is satisfied ‘special circumstances’ exist; and
  2. provided the request is made within three months of the applicant receiving the decision.

In Cloncurry Shire Council v Workers’ Compensation Regulatory Authority & Anor [2006] QSC 362, the Supreme Court found that a decision by Q-Comp to grant an extension outside of the three month period, was not invalid.

However, in a decision delivered on 28 April 2015, Martin J, President of the Industrial Court, disagreed with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of section 542.

Martin J found that if a request to extend time is not made within the three month period, the WCRA gives no power to the Regulator to grant an extension.

Martin J adopted a literal interpretation of the legislation.  Until the section is tested again at Supreme Court level, it seems likely that the Regulator (who was the Appellant in the case) will adopt the reasoning of Martin J.  The decision should be welcomed by insurers and employers.