Report No. 85
New Zealand.- New Zealand has adopted a comprehensive plan for dealing with all accidental injuries, no matter how caused.
Abolition of tort action.- The New Zealand legislation has abolished all rights1 of action in tort for personal injury or death and has provided instead, for State-funded compensation in respect of all those who suffered injury or death due to an accident, whether or not caused by the act or default of another. The New Zealand Act has been described as "the most ambitious reform of tort law in the common law word"2. It makes provision for the compensation of
(i) earners who suffer personal injury by accident regardless of place, time or cause;
(ii) all persons who, in New Zealand, suffer personal injury by a motor vehicle accident;
(iii) certain dependants of those earners and motor vehicle accident victims where death results from the injury.
The only (very limited) survival of the fault principle is that a person who wilfully inflicts injuries on himself has no claim, but even then dependants may be compensated if in special need. The Act3 establishes an Earner's Scheme and a Motor Vehicle Accident Scheme, the former dealing with personal injuries to earners (but not limited to injuries arising out of employment), and the latter covering the entire population with respect to injuries inflicted by motor vehicles. Where the schemes operate, tort action is abolished.
1. The Accidents Compensation Act, 1972 (New Zealand).
2. Geoffrey W. Palmer Compensation for Personal Injury: A Requiem for the Common Law in New Zealand, (1973) 21 American Journal of Comparative Law 1.
3. Accident Compensation Act, 1972, New Zealand Statutes, 1972, Vol. 1, No. 43.