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Communtity Law Manual | Accident compensation (ACC) | Appeal to District Court and higher courts

Challenging an ACC decision

Appeal to District Court and higher courts

Accident Compensation Act 2001, ss 149–161

An independent review decision can be appealed to the District Court. This appeal is a rehearing, which means that the court will just look at the evidence that was given at the review (although the court does have a discretionary power to receive further evidence). (A rehearing is different from a “de novo” hearing, which is where the parties present their cases and their evidence as if for the first time.)

What is the time limit for making an appeal?

Accident Compensation Act 2001, s 151

An appeal against a review decision must be made within 28 days after receiving the review decision, unless the court gives leave for a late appeal.

Who may appear at the court hearing?

Accident Compensation Act 2001, s 155

The person making the appeal and any other person who had a right to appear at the review may appear at the appeal in the District Court. They may come in person or appoint a representative. The representative need not be a lawyer.

Note: Legal aid may be available for an appeal of a review decision to the District Court (see the chapter “Legal aid”).

What decisions can the District Court make?

Accident Compensation Act 2001, s 161

The District Court can:

  • dismiss the appeal
  • make changes to the review decision
  • cancel the review decision, and
    • endorse ACC‘s decision
    • require ACC to take certain action
    • require another review to be held.

Appeal from District Court to High Court

Accident Compensation Act 2001, s 162

The District Court’s decision can be appealed to the High Court, but only on a question of law.

If you want to appeal, you must get permission to appeal from the District Court. You have 21 days from the date of the District Court decision to apply for that permission. If the District Court refuses permission, then you may apply to the High Court for permission within 21 days of that refusal. If permission is given, you have 21 days to file the appeal in the High Court.

Appeal from High Court to Court of Appeal

Accident Compensation Act 2001, s 163

There is a final right of appeal to the Court of Appeal on a question of law. Again, there is a two-step process of first obtaining permission from the High Court, or from the Court of Appeal if the High Court refuses. Generally, no appeal may be brought after 28 days from the date of the High Court decision unless special leave is given by the High Court or Court of Appeal.

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