2008 N.Z. L. Rev. 3 (2008)
The Woodhouse Vision - 40 Years in Practice

handle is hein.journals/newzlndlr2008 and id is 15 raw text is: The Woodhouse Vision -
40 Years in Practice
Ross WILSON*
It is a great honour to be asked, as the current Chair of the Accident Com-
pensation Corporation (the ACC) Board, to make a few opening comments
at this symposium to mark that historic event 40 years ago today - the
publication of the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry, Compensation
for Personal Injury in New Zealand (the Woodhouse Report).
The significance of its central recommendation, the abolition of the
common law right to sue for personal injury, was best expressed by the editors
of the American Journal of Comparative Law, where the implementation
in 1974 of the Accident Compensation Act 1972 was described as an
unparalleled event in our cultural history, the first casualty among the core
legal institutions of the civilized world.' It was clearly seen as a ground-
breaking reform from the beginning, and many of us in this room today have
been involved, in various ways, in the life of this remarkable innovation.
Today, we are privileged to be joined by the great man himself. This
makes me more than a bit nervous, knowing his razor-sharp recollection
for matters that I will probably be misreporting (unintentionally of course).
But can I take the opportunity to pay my own humble tribute to Sir Owen
Woodhouse: a great jurist, a great visionary, a humble and compassionate
man, and a remarkable New Zealander. My first encounter with Sir Owen
was in 1979. I can remember it very clearly. I had recently joined the National
Union of Railwaymen and had been quoted in the Evening Post making some
critical comment about the inadequacy of current ACC lump sum maxima.
I was having morning tea the following day and took a telephone call in
the tea room. Owen Woodhouse, a voice said. I was rendered speechless,
momentarily. Was this a friend playing a joke, or was the President of the
Court of Appeal really ringing me? Of course, it was not a hoax. As many
will know, Sir Owen has maintained a lively interest in his reform over the
past 40 years. I received my first tutorial by telephone that day on the merits
*Chair, Accident Compensation Corporation Board.
1 Fleming & Drobny, A Word from the Editors (1973) 21 Am J Comp L xi. See also
Palmer, Compensation for Personal Injury: A Requiem for the Common Law in New
Zealand (1973) 21 Am J Comp L 1.

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