Significant changes to procedures for workers’ compensation appeals


1 October 2015, there are significant
changes to the procedures for appeals made to the Queensland Industrial
Relations Commission (QIRC) under the Workers’ Compensation and
Rehabilitation Act 2003.

QIRC recently published a Guide setting out the procedures it will usually
adopt in managing appeals before it. Parties to an appeal against a decision of
the Regulator can now expect to be required to undertake significant work to
prepare their appeal immediately upon it being filed.

An employer continues to have a right to appeal a decision by
the Workers’ Compensation Regulator to allow or confirm an application for
workers’ compensation by a worker. Such appeals must be filed in QIRC within 20
days of the decision being received. An employee is also able to appeal a
decision by the Regulator to refuse an
application for workers’ compensation.

QIRC will issue a Directions Order within a day or two of an appeal being
filed. The Directions Order will contain the usual orders requiring the parties
to exchange documents within 10 days of the date of the Directions Order.

disclosure has been completed, an appellant will be required to file a
'Statement of Facts and Contentions' within 21 days. The requirement to file a
Statement of Facts and Contentions is an entirely new requirement. The
Statement of Facts and Contentions is to set out the key facts upon which the
party relies and the contentions that the party believes should be drawn from
those facts.

Guide states that the parties will be bound by the content of their
Statements of Facts and Contentions.
Parties will not be allowed to depart
from the Statements without the leave of the QIRC.

Changes to the procedure also include requirements for the parties to file an
Agreed Trial Plan, indicating the time expected for each stage of the hearing,
including evidence in chief and cross examination of each witness. Parties are
then committed to the Agreed Trial Plan and must seek leave to depart from it.
It is expected that a party will be given a five- or 10-minute warning when the
time limit indicated in the Agreed Trial Plan for a particular witness is close
to concluding.

are other changes that agencies will need to take into account when filing an
appeal. The primary effect of the procedural changes is that agencies will need
to have identified and have ready access to the relevant documents and also
witnesses at the time of filing an appeal. The Directions Orders will give an
agency little time to conduct to any further investigations after filing the

information about the changes to the procedures are contained in the Guide
on the QIRC website

– by Workplace Law Principal Lawyer, Nicola Smith