A recent case before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal shows
that, even when injuries are found to have been sustained in the
course of employment, an employee can have no entitlement to
The plaintiff was employed by Linfox Australia Pty Ltd as a
While delivering a tanker load of fuel, he became involved in a
couple's domestic dispute at a service station. This escalated
when the husband punched the plaintiff in the face and a fight
There was evidence that the plaintiff did not initiate the
fight. However, he did retaliate to the husband's aggressive
advances in a manner that escalated rather than diffused the
The plaintiff sustained a knee injury and facial injuries and
claimed compensation from his employer.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal found that the
plaintiff's injuries were sustained in the course of his
employment as the injuries were sustained while he was engaged in
work he was employed to do. In doing that work, it was foreseeable
he would come into contact with members of the public. Furthermore,
the plaintiff did not initiate the fight, so his behaviour was not
enough to take it out of the realm of 'within the course
of' his employment.
The Tribunal also commented that this was not a case where an
incident occurred in an interval or interlude of employment. The
plaintiff's employment duties could not be divided into
discrete tasks such that anything in between was an interval.
Rather, the tasks needed to be considered as part of his overall
employment duties as a tanker driver. In light of this, the
Tribunal found that the fight occurred while the plaintiff was
engaged in his employment duties.
Despite this, the Tribunal found that the plaintiff, in
provoking the husband, voluntarily and unreasonably submitted
himself to an abnormal risk of injury and, accordingly, the
employer was able to deny compensation under the Safety,
Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth).
Winner – EOWA Employer of Choice for Women Citation 2009,
2010, 2011 and 2012
Winner – ALB Gold Employer of Choice 2011 and 2012
Finalist – ALB Australasian Law Awards 2008, 2010, 2011 and
2012 (Best Brisbane Firm)
Winner – BRW Client Choice Awards 2009 and 2010 - Best
Australian Law Firm (revenue less than $50m)
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These cases could signal a shift in the court's attitude to appointing expert referees in complex or technical cases.
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