General Advice – February 2020


Is There a Need to Standardise Personal Injury Regulations Throughout Australia?


Although Australia covers an enormous surface area and distances between our cities are similar to those in the United States of America, our population is less than 10% of the USA. We have Federal laws that govern most activities and although there is some duplication with State and Local Government regulations, maybe the time has come to standardise procedures, processes and activities surrounding personal injury and negligence suits.

We currently have a situation where experts in one State are excluded from providing opinions in another State simply because requisite courses or certificates have not been completed or obtained.

I am fully supportive of the maintenance of the highest possible standards. Reciprocity however does deserve credence and could easily avoid duplication of effort, assist with a reduction in costs and generally facilitate a smoother conduct of proceedings.

This is especially true in negligence cases. For obvious reasons, many Counsel prefer to seek the advice of an expert from another State. This has the potential to diminish bias, improve objectivity and avoid turf wars. Unless State barriers are diluted or removed, the quest for the ideal expert becomes more difficult.

Some years ago, I approached the Chief Justice of this State. I was suggesting the formation of a panel of experts who would provide preliminary advice concerning the likelihood of success or otherwise of negligence cases on a pro bono basis. I also approached the Bar Association and the Law Society. To my surprise, I was able to achieve zero traction. I understand that there can be many reasons. It occurred to me however that one of the reasons could relate to the preservation of “one’s own patch”. If I am correct, that motion would also probably extend to obstructing removal of State barriers. So be it.