Help! I’ve been served with a PIPA, Part 1 Notice of Claim

Don’t panic! A Personal Injuries Proceeding Act (PIPA) Part 1 Notice of Claim (NOC) is not a court order. It is the law that governs personal injury cases in Queensland by setting out mandatory procedural guidelines for efficient resolution. In short – it tells you that someone wants to sue you and the reasons why.

Unsurprisingly, there are dozens of factors that influence how much a claim may end up costing. While specific factors such as the claimant’s age, current health, or even employment status are certainly important, the central factors we can use to help determine cost are based on the injury itself.

 

SO, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WITH PART 1 NOC?

Firstly, check the date that the Part 1 NOC has been served to you. As a respondent, you have one month from the date of service to respond to the NOC and state:

(1) whether you are the proper respondent and

(2) if you deem the Part 1 NOC as compliant.

 

Proper Respondent

Under s 10 of PIPA, you are the proper respondent if the Part 1 NOC lists the correct name and address of your entity. [For example; if your corporation’s name is Clear Crystals, but the Part 1 NOC is served on Crystal Cleaning, you are not the proper respondent and you have the duty to inform the claimant. Additionally, if you provided cleaning services to a Centre in 2018, then another cleaner was contracted in 2019 and the incident occurred in 2019, you are not the proper respondent because you were not the contracted party at the time of the incident]. Once you have identified whether you are the proper respondent, you have a duty to write to the claimant to inform them.

 

Compliance

Under s 12 of PIPA, the respondent has the right to deem the Part 1 NOC as non-compliant if it:

(1) does not answer all questions in the Part 1 NOC and

(2) the Part 1 NOC is not served from the date of the incident or 1 month from the date that solicitors are appointed.

Note that it is standard practice for the claimant’s solicitor to provide reasons for the delay and amend the Part 1 NOC so that compliance is met. Once you agree with the Part 1 NOC, you have one month from the date of the amended Part 1 NOC to write to the claimant accepting compliance. Per s 13 of PIPA, should you fail to provide a response, compliance is deemed.

 

YOU’VE WRITTEN TO THE CLAIMANT’s SOLICITOR TO AGREE WITH COMPLIANCE, NOW WHAT?

Disclosure

Be proactive and start compiling all the evidence relevant to the claimant’s incident. Note that you have a duty under s 27 of PIPA to disclose all relevant evidence to the claimant. Typically, a claimant or their solicitor will request this once you have deemed compliance. Note that under s 22 of PIPA, you also have the same right to request evidence relating to the incident that the claimant has in their possession. Remember that the claimant had the duty to provide you with their disclosure within one month from receiving your s 22 requests or within 7 days from when they come into possession of the documents.

 

Investigation

Once you have received all the disclosure materials, investigate the matter. Under s 20 of PIPA, you have a duty to attempt to resolve this claim. This resolution can be done through a commercial settlement, settlement offer, or a letter of denial should you believe that you are not liable for the claimant’s injuries. Given the speedy nature of PIPA claims, you have 6 months to investigate and determine whether you admit or deny liability.

 

WHAT IS THE PART 2 NOC AND WHAT DO YOU DO WITH IT?

The Part 2 NOC is used to determine the quantum of the matter, should you believe that you are liable. Typically, you will use this when determining the amount that the claimant is going to be compensated for the claim. Often this is accompanied by a schedule of damages. The claimant will serve this 2 months from the date that you deem their Part 1 NOC as complaint.

 

YOU’VE SUBMITTED YOUR S 22 LETTER, NOW WHAT? 

Nothing! It is up to the claimant to either accept your offer/denial or reject it.

 

YOU’VE BEEN ASKED TO ATTEND A COMPULSORY CONFERENCE. DO YOU HAVE TO GO? 

The short answer is yes. Under s 36 of PIPA, any party can call a Compulsory Conference and it is compulsory. The purpose of the Compulsory Conference is to clarify issues and find a solution to the dispute without proceeding to a hearing. However, you cannot call for this unless a s 20 has been issued. Note that you have every right to state that you do not agree with a date of a Compulsory Conference, however, you must provide the reasons why and what further information and evidence you require to be ready.

If the matter cannot be settled at the conference, a direction or order will be made to reduce the issues to be determined at the hearing. However, in most cases, the compulsory conference results in an agreement between the parties. This agreement is signed by both parties and the matter is resolved.

 

A FINAL NOTE 

The Part 1 NOC may seem like a concerning document to receive but remember that its purpose is to provide speedy resolutions to matters. It sets guidelines for both the plaintiff/claimant and respondent. The most efficient way to proceed is to follow the steps in the act or reach out to Risksmart to manage your claims.

 

Chantelle Kaur

Claims Executive

chantelle.kaur@risksmartclaims.com.au

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