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March 21, 2018

Ready or not—certificates of readiness



Noakes v Beveridge [2014] ACTSC 177

Although an ACT decision, this case relates to similar provisions in the MAIA.

The Plaintiff served a certificate of readiness on 16 October 2013, with the conference held on 23 October 2013. The certificate was signed by the Plaintiff’s solicitor and certified that all medical and other expert reports had been obtained.

Some four months after proceedings were commenced, the Plaintiff served occupational physician and psychiatrist reports. The defendant objected to the Plaintiff relying on the two reports on the basis that they had been obtained after the signing of the certificate of readiness.

The Court noted that although the provisions of the Act generally required full disclosure and encouraged settlement without the need for litigation, the regime is an intricate one involving a balance by the legislature between competing interests and considerations. There was nothing in the Act which would permit an implication that new expert evidence was not permitted to be relied upon. Further, it could not be said that seeking to rely upon such new evidence amounted to an abuse of the Court’s process.

The Plaintiff was granted leave to rely upon the new expert evidence notwithstanding that those reports were not served prior to the conference. The defendant was ordered to pay the Plaintiff’s costs of the application.