Issue No. 7 - October/November 2002
Public Liability Reform in South Australia
by Mark Kelly
The South Australian Government is pursuing public liability reform. Reducing the cost of premiums and improving the availability of public liability insurance is its objective. The proposed broad ranging statutory changes will closely mirror the existing motor vehicle accident scheme. The reforms are likely to significantly affect the law in relation to recreational services and structured settlements.
Substantive law reform
Spiralling public liability insurance premiums threaten the economic stability of the community as a whole, from small family businesses to community groups. South Australia’s Treasurer, Mr Kevin Foley, strongly advocates this proposed legislative package of substantive law reform.
The reform package includes:
- a cap on general damages for injury
- capped payments for loss of future income
- waivers for right to sue when participating in risky activities
- a reduction in claims for those injured while drunk or influenced by drugs
- the implementation of periodic payments as opposed to lump sum settlements
- protection of ‘good Samaritans’.
These legislative changes are expected to decrease the cost of premiums and provide a degree of certainty for insurance companies. However, it has been noted by the Insurance Council of Australia’s State Manager Chris Newland, that should the changes produce savings in claim costs, it will take ‘some time to determine the real impact of the legislation on the cost of insurance claims’.
The South Australian Government’s public liability reform package includes three pieces of legislation. Two are still awaiting Royal Assent:
- Wrongs (Liability & Damages for Personal Injury) Amendment Bill 2002
- Recreational Services (Limitation of Liability) Bill 2002
The Statute Amendment (Structured Settlements) Act 2002 was given assent on 5 September 2002.
The Wrongs Act<...