On 19 March 2019, the Queensland Supreme Court handed down its judgment in an interlocutory application to have an administrator appointed under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld), so that the administrator could manage the Applicant's settlement monies payable for her personal injuries claim. The Court found that the Applicant did not have impaired capacity for the purposes of giving instructions and making decisions for this litigation and its settlement.
The Applicant had suffered a psychiatric injury, which caused impaired judgment, learning and memory difficulties and an inability to manage large sums of money. Nonetheless, the Applicant was capable of giving instructions throughout the course of her personal injury claim, which settled. The terms of settlement were recorded in a release document, executed by each of the parties.
Under the release document, the respondent insurer agreed to pay 'settlement monies' to the Applicant. The parties had agreed that an amount for reasonably administration and management fees to be agreed or assessed would be paid in addition to the settlement monies.
Following the settlement, a dispute developed as to whether agreement had been reached on the quantum of reasonable administration and management fees. The Applicant applied for orders for the appointment of an administrator under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld).
The determinative issues for consideration were:
- whether the Court had jurisdiction to make the orders sought, and if so;
- whether the parties have agreed on, or it remains for the Court to assess, the amount to be ordered to be paid as administration and management fees.
The power the Applicant urged the Court to apply is found in s 12 and s 245 of the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld). For s 245 to apply, there must be a civil proceeding which the Court orders an amount to be paid by another person to an adult. It is a consequential power that follows the lawful making of orders by a Court. In this case, it would be circular for his Honour to have reasoned that orders requiring the respondents to pay the management and administration fees could be the source of the Court's jurisdiction.
The Applicant relied alternatively on the parens patriae jurisdiction. Because the Applicant was not considered to be under an impaired capacity for the purposes of giving instructions and making decisions for the personal injury litigation and its settlement, the Court found she was capable of giving instructions in the dispute about the amount for administration and management fees.