Claim farming involves someone (the claim farmer) targeting a person and pressuring them to make a compensation claim. Claim farmers might cold call, offer help to make a claim or imply they are connected to a government agency or insurer.
Claim farmers then sell their personal information to a law practice or claims management service.
Claim farmers do not support injured workers. Farmed claims can result in false promises, misinformation about your rights and entitlements and increase your legal costs.
If you are represented by a lawyer in your workers’ compensation claim, your lawyer is required to provide a law practice certificate to you at various stages of the claim. These certificates certify that they/their law practice have not paid a claim farmer for your claim.
The stages at which a law practice certificate is to be provided will depend on the type of claim you have. Your lawyer should inform you of when you can expect to receive a law practice certificate.
The new laws do not prevent you from making a claim, or impact on the progress of your claim if you are injured at work. If you haven’t been given a law practice certificate, your claim will continue to proceed.
You must notify the Workers’ Compensation Regulator of all non-compliant law practice certificates (LPCs) within seven business days of the original due date of the certificate.
Within those seven business days, you should query the non-compliance with the law practice using the Claim farming – suspected non-compliance template letter (DOCX, 0.02 MB).
For all non-compliant law practice certificates, including those provided after the due date, you must make a report to the Workers’ Compensation Regulator providing details of the non-compliance using the online reporting form.
This information must be provided without delay.
Once you have reported non-compliance for when a LPC should be received, you are not required to submit any further reports. For example, a LPC is not received by the due date, the insurer issues a reminder letter and reports the non-compliance to the Workers' Compensation Regulator. Despite the reminder, the LPC has not yet been received. In this scenario, there is no need to report that the LPC is still outstanding.
An insurer will need to report a non-compliant LPC twice only if it is non-compliant on two separate occasions (e.g., an LPC is not provided by the due date both at the start of a common law claim and at the end of the common law claim).
In certain situations, an LPC will become 'due' once it is requested by the insurer. For example, in a statutory claim where the insurer receives a payment direction for a lump sum amount to be paid to a law practice's trust account, other than from that law practice and that payment direction is not accompanied by an LPC. In this scenario, the insurer must request the law practice to provide the LPC. The law practice must then give the LPC to the insurer and a copy to the claimant within seven days of the insurer's request. The 'due date' for this scenario is only once seven days have passed since the insurer's request. Accordingly, the LPC is only non-compliant and requires reporting if it is not provided within seven days of the insurer's request.
From 30 June 2022, it is an offence to engage in claim farming practices in Queensland’s workers’ compensation and personal injury schemes.
This amendment was made by the Personal Injuries Proceedings and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022.
The claim farming laws in the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 were modelled on the Motor Accident Insurance and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 and are consistent with the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002.
The claim farming laws:
- prohibit the act of cold-calling or personally approaching another person without their consent and soliciting or inducing them to make a personal injury claim;
- make it an offence for any person to pay claim farmers for the details of a potential claimant, or to receive payment for a claim referral or potential claim referral;
- require legal practitioners representing injured claimants to certify (via a ‘law practice certificate’) at various times during the claims process that neither they nor their associates had paid a claim farmer for the claim; and
- provide that law practices may need to refund, or may not be entitled to recover, fees and disbursements paid in connection with a claim that has been claim farmed.
The laws aim to break the connection between claim farmers and law practices by removing any incentive for a claim farmer to supply a potential claimant to a law practice, or for a law practice to obtain details of a potential claimant from a claim farmer.
The laws expand the enforcement and investigation powers of the Workers’ Compensation Regulator to investigate and prosecute claim farming offences. These matters will be managed by Workers’ Compensation Regulatory Services in the Office of Industrial Relations. They also include further powers for the Legal Services Commission to oversee compliance and investigate breaches of the new claim farming provisions.
To streamline investigative and enforcement activities across personal injury schemes, the laws also facilitate the sharing of information between the Workers’ Compensation Regulator, the Legal Services Commission and the Motor Accident Insurance Commission.
A law practice who represents claimants in workers’ compensation or personal injury matters must provide a law practice certificate to insurers and claimants at various stages of a claim. This is to ensure that the law practice has not paid a claim farmer for the claim, or otherwise engaged in claim farming activities in relation to the claim.
The law practice certificate is available on the Legal Services Commission website.
The law practice certificate is to be signed by the supervising principal of the law practice.
If the claim is a speculative personal injury claim, the law practice certificate must also state that the costs agreement complies with section 347 of the Legal Profession Act 2007.
Contravention of the claim farming offences and non-compliance with the requirement to provide law practice certificates will attract a maximum penalty of 300 penalty units.
In addition, if a law practice is found to have engaged in claim farming practices, the law practice may need to refund, or may not be entitled to recover, fees and disbursements paid in connection with a claim.
An injured worker’s injury may fall under two or more claim schemes and involve multiple respondents – these are known as hybrid claims. For example, if a worker suffers an injury at a work site due to faulty equipment then their claim may fall under both the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 and the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003.
In a hybrid claim, a law practice certificate must be provided in accordance with the requirements of each scheme. This means there may be a requirement to provide law practice certificates to a number of respondents. For administrative ease, a single form (Law Practice Certificate (PDF)) has been developed for use across the three schemes which supports electronic signatures.
Further information about hybrid claims can be found on the Legal Services Commission website.
If you have been unable to provide a law practice certificate by the due date, you should immediately advise the insurer and claimant of when they may expect the certificate.
Please note that insurers are required to report all non-compliance with the law practice certificate requirements to the Workers’ Compensation Regulator within 7 business days of the due date. Non-compliant certificates include those which have been provided after the due date.
The Workers’ Compensation Regulator may investigate and enforce compliance with the claim farming and law practice certificate requirements.
It is acknowledged that administrative delay or other unforeseen circumstances may cause a law practice certificate to be provided after the due date and late certificates are not always indicative of claim farming activity.
The claims farming and law practice certificate requirements are not retrospective.
The claims farming offences started on 30 June 2022 however the requirements to provide a law practice certificate started on 31 October 2022.
If your law practice was retained by a claimant before 31 October 2022, you are required to provide a law practice certificate for each new step from 31 October 2022 as the claim progresses, unless the claim was already settled, decided by a court or otherwise concluded before 31 October 2022.
Note that a lawyer is not required to certify in relation to their conduct prior to the introduction of the claims farming offences on 30 June 2022.
The Workers’ Compensation Regulator will investigate offences under the claim farming provisions, including non-compliance with requirements for law practice certificates. The Workers’ Compensation Regulatory Services compliance and enforcement policy is available at WorkSafe Queensland. The Workers’ Compensation Regulator’s prosecutions policy is also available at WorkSafe Queensland.
The Workers’ Compensation Regulator work closely with the Legal Services Commission and the Motor Accident Insurance Commission in the efficient administration, investigation and enforcement of these offences.
For further information, please refer to the Legal Services Commission website.
A Notice of Claim (NOC) must comply with the requirements under section 275 of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, including the requirement for a law practice certificate (LPC) to accompany the NOC if a law practice is retained to act in relation to the claim.
An insurer is to give the claimant written notice within 10 business days of receiving the NOC of whether the NOC is compliant with section 275 of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003. If the NOC is not compliant, and there is an urgent need to start a proceeding, the insurer may notify the claimant that it waives compliance with the requirements under section 275. If the insurer does not notify the claimant that the NOC is compliant or that it waives compliance, the NOC will be taken to be a complying NOC.
If the insurer receives a non-compliant NOC and waives or presumes compliance with the requirements under section 275, an LPC must be provided. If the law practice has already given the claimant an LPC for the claim and this LPC has not been provided to the insurer, the law practice must give the insurer a copy of this LPC as soon as practicable.
If the law practice has not given the claimant an LPC for the claim, the law practice must complete an LPC for the claim and give a copy to the claimant and the insurer. This LPC must be given within one month after the claimant is notified by the insurer of the presumption or waiver of compliance.
An insurer is not required to report to the Workers' Compensation Regulator if an LPC is not provided with the non-compliant NOC but is provided within the timeframes specified above (i.e., as soon as practicable for an LPC already given to the claimant, or within one month of notification of the insurer's waiver or presumption of compliance).