LISTEN LIVE TO NEWSTALK ZB

Newstalk ZB

ON AIR NOW

Keep up with
Newstalk ZB

Follow Us

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Select region

Site Search

Search Search

Mike's Editorial: Susan Couch case sends a message

Share |

| Thursday, December 06, 2012 10:28 AM

Mike's Editorial: Susan Couch case sends a message

You can't help but feel good for Susan Couch.

As we've heard, she's on the verge of a deal with Corrections, she should have a cheque by the end of the week. You have to admire, given what she's been through, the will to fight because most wouldn't. We don't have a system in this country that allows us to tackle government departments but in taking them on, she might well have opened the door for others and the worry of course is she might well have opened the door too widely.

The Supreme Court allowed her to sue the department for $500,000 - that was a precedent in itself. But they contained the amount and they also prevented her from having a jury decide. Those are critical decisions. As much as you might like Susan Couch to get compensated for what she's been through, what you don't want is the natural extension of where all this is going if it's getting left unchecked. Where it's going is directly towards the American way of doing things.

Our way of doing things of course is ACC. You get injured and you get looked after, except you don't get looked after, not always. ACC for all its universality has far too many faults. A no-fault system is flawed in the cases where it was someone's fault and that someone needs to be taught a lesson. ACC doesn't teach them a lesson. When Corrections writes that cheque out, it will focus the mind as it should given their level of incompetence in all of this.

But if Susan Couch hadn't been contained by the court and had got a jury trial and had been allowed to sue for an unlimited amount, where would it have ended? Setting that sort of precedent wouldn't have opened the door, you would've opened the flood gates. Before you know it the handful of genuine cases and causes like her's would've been lost in the stampede of opportunistic cases led by lawyers who see nothing more than dollar signs and claimants who are blinded to the pressures and uncertainties of such litigation by the briefs who dress it all up as a cash bonanza on a no win, no fee basis.

The great hope out of the Couch case is it has what they call in legal circles a 'chilling effect', that the weight, humiliation and exposure of a government department writing out a very large cheque as a direct result of them not doing their job properly and as such forever altering a person's life in a profound way would mean it doesn't happen again. Well that's the theory. But then, this is a government department.

Latest Opinion

Barry Soper: It's been a strange electio ...

Friday, September 19, 2014

This has been one strange election campaign. First there was the Nicky Hage ...

Laura McQuillan: Key's minnow fish

Friday, September 19, 2014

When John Key sat down to read a picture book to New Plymouth school kids l ...

Michael Sergel: Tamaki Makaurau – and th ...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

In a seven part series, reporter Michael Sergel takes a look at the politic ...

Mike's Editorial: Roll on Saturday

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I think I’d call last night’s debate a draw unless I was asked ...

Rachel Smalley: Greenwald's revelations ...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

More revelations from the Snowden files are coming, we're told. And they&rs ...

The Soap Box: A missed opportunity for C ...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Now this has got nothing to do with political ideology, bias, favouritism, ...

Advertisement
Sevens
Advertisement
  • Italian army to produce cannabis derivatives for p ...

  • Large fire destroys Christchurch bowls hall

  • Canterbury's bat population dwindles

  • World Sailing Champs: Aleh and Powrie surge into 4 ...

  • Australia ramps up security after reports of plann ...

  • NZ First and Conservatives climb in poll

  • Auckland Weather

    11°
    Today
    Showers
    H:17° L:10°
    Click for More Weather
    More Weather

    Election 2014

    Will you vote in Election 2014?

    Vote Now

    View Results