Why its a good idea to get legal advice before Conciliation

I was recently asked to give a presentation to the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service and be part of a Panel discussing the role of lawyers in the Conciliation process. In my presentation I said that it was my opinion, that the sooner someone gets legal advice about their rights and entitlements, the better, and that in my view, the fact that many workers are now getting legal advice before Conciliation, is a good thing, especially for the workers. Generally speaking, this is because it is always better to get advice while the events surrounding an injury are fresh in the mind and while relevant witnesses can be contacted. The particular benefit of getting legal advice before Conciliation, is that people are simply much better equipped to make important decisions about their claim, after they have had a good long discussion with a lawyer about all of their possible rights and entitlements.

Conciliation is requested by a worker when a worker wants to dispute a decision of the Claims Agent or a Self Insurer. The dispute could be about weekly payments of compensation, medical and like expenses or an Impairment Benefit. Conciliation provides an opportunity for a worker and the Claims Agent or Self Insurer to try and settle a dispute before going to Court.There is usually a delay of a number of weeks between lodging the request for Conciliation and the Conciliation hearing.

It is important that a worker is represented at Conciliation.Usually workers are represented by WorkCover Assist, Union Assist or a Union representative, rather than a Lawyer at the actual Conciliation meeting. However, that doesn’t mean that a lawyer can’t be involved behind the scenes, giving advice about the best way to prepare for Conciliation, what to do at Conciliation and the best way forward.

In the lead up to Conciliation, crucial material can be gathered to support a person’s claim. Once at Conciliation, important decisions often need to be made by a worker about whether to ask a Conciliator to make a direction, whether to accept any offer made by the Claims Agent or Self Insurer, whether to request that a matter go to a Medical Panel or to agree to a Medical Panel referral, or whether it is better to proceed to Court. To make these kinds of decisions, a worker needs advice about how any decision they make, might affect their future rights and entitlements, whether they have any other rights and entitlements, whether it is possible for a Conciliator to make a direction in the circumstances, whether it is possible to negotiate, what are the pros and cons of going to a Medical Panel, what are the pros and cons of going to Court? If they went to Court would they be likely to win? What would be involved? What are the costs involved? What are the time frames? In short – what is the best strategy and the best way forward for them and their claim right now and in the future. When someone has a lawyer to guide and advise them through this process, and to answer all these questions, making a decision about what to do next is made a whole lot easier.

If you need help requesting Conciliation, getting ready for Conciliation or making a decision about what to do at Conciliation call  9775 1371 or email  penny@peninsulainjurylawyers.com.au. The first consultation is absolutely free and without obligation and you can learn about our no win no fee cost arrangements.