Nominal Defendant v Star Motorcycles Pty Ltd & Anor
 QDC 41
A recent decision of Judge Dorney QC of the Queensland District
Court has clarified the limitation period for recoverable sums
under section 60 of the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994
By way of background, on 15 November 2003 a motorcycle collision
caused an injury to the claimant resulting in the original personal
injuries action. The rider of the other motorcycle was an employee
of Star Motorcycles, and was riding an unregistered motorcycle that
was owned by his employer. Nominal Defendant paid damages to the
claimant for his injuries and sought to recover that amount from
Star Motorcycles Pty Ltd.
The application concerned whether the Nominal Defendant's
claim, or part of it, was statute barred. The argument centred on
whether the Nominal Defendant's cause of action accrued solely
upon first reasonably incurring specific costs in relation to the
personal injuries claim, or whether there were successive causes of
action for such costs as each individual cost was incurred.
In support of a single cause of action, the English Court of
Appeal decision of Legal Services Commission v Rasool
 3 All ER 381 was raised. The issue in that case was whether
the Legal Services Commission had a claim that was statute barred
under similar legislation to that of Queensland. The outcome
depended upon whether time began to run from the date of the
revocation of the relevant legal aid certificate, or from the date
of assessment of costs, which determined the recoverable amount.
The former meant the claim was barred and the latter meant the
claim had not expired.
Ward LJ thought it was important that the words used in the
regulation that founded the recovery were 'the costs paid or
payable'. An extract was relied upon from Nourse LJ in
Hillingdon London Borough Council v ARC Ltd  Ch 139,
which noted it was established by authority that a cause of action
for a sum recoverable by virtue of an enactment 'accrues'
notwithstanding that it remained to be quantified.
Dorney DCJ thought the point of distinction between Rasool and
the present case was that Ward LJ could see no justification at all
for time running differently if the costs had been paid or were
simply payable – they must have been, at the very least,
payable. Dorney DCJ found it difficult to see how Rasool
or Hillingdon had application in the case before him. The
fact that the ascertainment of the extent of those costs had not
been determined at the time of the revocation did not prevent the
cause of action accruing on revocation. His Honour thought that was
in distinct contrast to what could occur in the present case.
Although, undoubtedly, a liability to pay future 'costs'
would exist if they were to be 'reasonably incurred', such
costs could not be said to be other than, at best, 'impending,
threatened or expected'.
His Honour ultimately found the words in section 60(1) MAIA
bespeak a right of separate recovery for every set of
You would expect a similar approach to recoveries under section
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