In this case, the District Court had to determine whether to exercise it’s discretion to declare notice under the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (Qld) when there had been a delayed application for the claim. Central to the Court’s decision was whether the Applicant’s explanation for the delay was satisfactory, and the prejudice it would cause the Respondent should the claim proceed.
In its decision, the Court considered there to be fault on the part of the previous solicitor for not lodging the claim and not advising the Applicant of the relevant time frames. The Court also acknowledged that the Applicant did not take any action in relation to her claim for approximately 2 years and that this inaction was not satisfactorily explained. However ultimately, his Honour allowed the application because of the absence of prejudice to the insurer, the fault on the part of the first solicitors, and the Applicant’s compelling evidence that she only ever understood there to be a 3 year time limitation. The Applicant was ordered to pay costs.
This case indicates that the Courts may be willing to allow even a lengthy delay in serving a Notice of Accident Claim Form in relation to a motor vehicle accident where there is no significant prejudice to the respondent, and there is a legitimate excuse for the delay. It also indicates the Courts’ interest in deciding a matter based on its merits, rather than dismissing it on a technicality. While a claimant should always seek to stay within the limitation periods, if they happen to miss the time frames, there may still be an opportunity to serve their CTP claim.