Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1998 19 R
31/12/2020
R. McCutcheon
  • Issue setting
  • Jurisdiction, Tribunal (final decision of Board)
  • Reconsideration (jurisdictional error)

The Board applied for reconsideration of Decision No. 1998/19.

The worker suffered a low back injury in March 2014. The worker appealed denial of entitlement for psychotraumatic disability. At the original hearing, the worker and employer agreed that, if the hearing panel granted entitlement, the worker would be entitled to LOE benefits from March 2016 to July 2019. The hearing panel found that the worker had entitlement for psychotraumatic disability, and granted the LOE benefits.
The Board submitted that the only issue before the hearing panel was entitlement for psychotraumatic disability, and that the hearing panel did not have jurisdiction to make a determination regarding LOE benefits.
The Tribunal Chair stated that the narrow interpretation of the Tribunal's jurisdiction put forth by the Board ran counter to the systemic interest in timely adjudication, finality in the appeal system and the financially responsible expenditure of institutional resources.
The Tribunal has jurisdiction over final decisions of the Board. A final decision of the Board ought to be construed broadly and purposively to determine the scope of the Tribunal's jurisdiction. The Tribunal has jurisdiction to address sequential issues.
The key adjudicative fact in this case was the Board's denial of entitlement for psychotraumatic disability. There was no scope for the worker to pursue LOE benefits in the absence of psychotraumatic disability entitlement. The Chair found it straightforward that the original hearing panel had jurisdiction to rule as it did in Decision No. 1998/19. Entitlement to LOE benefits was a sequential issue that arose out of the Tribunal's jurisdiction over psychotraumatic disability entitlement.
The Chair distinguished between jurisdiction and issue setting. The hearing panel in this case had jurisdiction to consider sequential issues. In some cases, the Tribunal may decide to refer sequential issues back to the Board. In this case, various factors clearly supported the inclusion of LOE benefits in the issue agenda. The factors included: the proceedings were not complicated; the parties agreed that the hearing panel should address LOE entitlement; there was sufficient evidence; referral to the Board would have prolonged the proceedings to no practical purpose; and both parties were given an opportunity to make submissions on the issue agenda.
The application for reconsideration was denied.