21 Jun 2012

Lawyer criticises ACC compensation approach

9:39 am on 21 June 2012

A lawyer acting on behalf of claimants who had their privacy breached by the Accident Compensation Corporation says an offer of financial compensation has not been well thought through.

ACC mistakenly sent details of 6748 claimants to another claimant, Bronwyn Pullar, in December.

A spokesperson for ACC says it has written to people it has identified as being entitled to compensation, and to clients who have written to ACC who feel they have had their privacy violated.

However the spokesperson declined to say how many letters it has sent.

The corporation says its compensation offers range from a formal written apology to money.

ACC compensation lawyer Peter Sara says for some of his clients financial compensation is not the answer.

"Given that there has been a breach of trust and a breach of people's rights, then a more thoughtful approach I think is needed to remedy that, rather than a wholesale throwing out of coins as though you were the king passing by to the peasants sort of thing."

Compensation at 'lower' end

ACC Minster Judith Collins says any financial payouts will be at the lower end.

"They are obviously free to accept the offer of compensation or dispute that and that would then go to the privacy commissioner, but it is at the lower end of the compensation spectrum."

Labour MP Andrew Little, meanwhile, has called for taxpayers to be told the amount of money the corporation pays out to claimants who have had their privacy breached.

He says as every wage earner and business pays ACC and the public is entitled to know the total amount paid out.