Ruckman v Suncorp Metway Insurance Ltd  QCA
The Queensland Court of Appeal has recently confirmed that
Queensland compulsory third party (CTP) insurers can recover costs
under section 58 of the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994
(Qld) even if not all of the costs were reasonably incurred.
Ruckman held CTP insurance with Suncorp. Because of his
consumption of alcohol, he was unable to exercise effective control
of the motor vehicle he was driving. He caused an accident that
injured two claimants.
Suncorp relied on section 58 of the Motor Accident Insurance
Act 1994 to sue Ruckman for the settlement money it had paid
to the claimants, plus the costs of handling the claims.
Section 58 only allows an insurer to recover 'any costs
reasonably incurred'. Ruckman argued that some of Suncorp's
costs were not reasonably incurred and therefore none of the costs
could be recovered.
While the Court of Appeal agreed that some of Suncorp's
costs were not reasonably incurred, it confirmed the decision of
the trial judge that 'costs' includes separate categories
of costs. Therefore, Suncorp was allowed to recover the portion of
its costs that were reasonably incurred and the rest of the costs
An unreasonably incurred cost in one category of costs (such as
compensation for future economic loss, which is often paid as a
'global' figure because it is impossible to precisely
calculate) does not affect the insurer's ability to recover
reasonably incurred costs in other categories.
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The failure of a party to call a witness does not necessarily give rise to an adverse inference being drawn in accordance with Jones v Dunkel (1959) 101 CLR 298. An unfavourable inference is drawn only if evidence otherwise provides a basis on which that unfavourable inference can be drawn.
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