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When a worker sends their employer a claim for compensation by email, when is that claim ‘given’ for the purpose of section 35 of the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988?

It is uncontroversial that, under section 35(1)(b) of the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Tas) (‘the Act’), a worker may validly serve a claim for compensation by emailing it to the person designated for the purpose by their employer.

However, the Act does not specify when an emailed claim is deemed to have been ‘given’ to an employer under section 35(1)(b). Is a claim ‘given’ by email when it arrives in the recipient’s inbox or, alternatively, when the recipient opens and reads the contents of the claim? The answer to that question determines when the 84-day time limit for an employer to dispute a claim begins if the claim was served by email.

Usefully, the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal — in IPEC Pty Ltd t/a Team Global Express v G [2023] TASCAT 53 and Tasmania (Department of State Growth) v P [2023] TASCAT 57 — has clarified the law on this issue.

Both cases concerned workers who had served claims for compensation by email. The workers argued that the Tribunal lacked jurisdiction to determine their employers’ referrals under s 81A(1) of the Act because they had been filed more than 84 days after the email containing the claim had arrived in the recipient’s inbox. The employers argued that the referrals had been filed within the 84 days because time did not start until the recipient had opened and read the contents of the claim.

The Tribunal held that service of a claim by email under s 35(1)(b) occurs when the employer’s designated person receives actual notice of the claim — that is, when they read the claim form and initial workers compensation medical certificate.

If you have any questions about the issues raised in this case law update, feel free to contact our insurance litigation team.