What is a genuine dispute certificate?
A Genuine Dispute Certificate is a document that certifies that a matter has gone to conciliation but could not resolve by way of the conciliation process.
The certificate confirms that the conciliator believes that both parties involved in the dispute (you and the WorkCover insurance company) have made all reasonable attempts to resolve the matter and that a ‘genuine dispute’ exists.
You might sometimes hear a genuine dispute certificate referred to as a ‘GD’.
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When would a person receive a certificate of genuine dispute?
A genuine dispute certificate is something you might come across during your matter if you have proceeded to conciliation.
So once you’ve lodged a request for conciliation and you’ve gone through the conciliation process, if the matter fails to resolve during the conciliation process the conciliator will issue a genuine dispute certificate.
A genuine dispute certificate needs to be distinguished from other possible conciliation outcomes.
For example, if a matter fails to resolve during the conciliation process but there is the prospect that it might resolve the conciliator might issue what’s called a progress certificate.
A progress certificate confirms that the conciliation matter has been paused for a specified period of time.
Here’s an example of a matter where a Genuine Dispute Certificate might be provided:
Let’s say that you have a shoulder injury and that your treating specialist has suggested that you would benefit from shoulder surgery.
As you’re on WorkCover, your specialist submits a request to the WorkCover Insurer requesting that they pay for the cost of the surgery, and any associated costs.
After considering the medical material, the WorkCover insurer then sends you a letter (referred to as a notice) letting you know that they don’t agree to pay for the cost of the surgery.
The letter should outline the reasons as to why they won’t pay for surgery.
For example purposes, lets say that they believe that you could better treat and manage your shoulder injury with conservative treatment (eg: physiotherapy) as opposed to having surgery.
You disagree with this and pursue the matter to conciliation.
The matter fails to resolve by way of agreement during the conciliation process and the conciliator then provides the parties with the genuine dispute certificate.
What’s next after a genuine dispute certificate has been issued?
Once you have obtained a certificate of genuine dispute, you have a few options open to you in relation to the matter.
Proceed to arbitration
You can elect to proceed to arbitration after obtaining a genuine dispute certificate in certain instances.
Not all matters can proceed to arbitration. Those that can after obtaining a genuine dispte certificate are as follows:
- Disputes that relate to weekly payments
- Disputes that relate to medical and like expenses
- Superannuation contribution issues
- Interest on an outstanding amount
If you elect to go down this route, we would recommend that you have a lawyer assist you.
Proceed to court
If you obtain a genuine dispute certificate, you can proceed to the WorkCover Magistrates’ court to have your dispute determined.
All WorkCover disputes where you have obtained a genuine dispute certificate can proceed to the WorkCover Magistrates’ court (unlike arbitration).
If you elect to proceed to down this route, you should have a lawyer assist you in most instances.
Workplace intendent review service
You can refer matters to a member of the WorkSafe team to review.
They will review the relevant material and provide an opinion in relation to the matter.
Elect to do nothing
You can elect to not do anything further in relation to the matter.
If in the future you wish to revisit the dispute, you may be able to do so because you have the certificate of genuine dispute.
Sometimes it makes sense to obtain a certificate of genuine dispute just to protect your interests moving forward.
For example, if your weekly payments are terminated at 130 weeks but you have a work capacity.
At that point in time, it might make sense to obtain the certificate of genuine dispute rather than to pursue the dispute further at that point in time. And if in the future your work capacity chances such that you don’t have a capacity for employment, you may wish to pick the matter up at that point in time.
Continue to negotiate with the insurer
Post conciliation and after obtaining a genuine dispute certificate, you can continue to negotiate with the insurer to try and resolve the matter.
This might not be worth doing in all matters but in some matters there may be a benefit to doing so. It really depends on the nature of the dispute.
A genuine dispute certificate is a document that a person will be provided with if their matter fails to resolve via the conciliation process.
A genuine dispute certificate certifies that all reasonable attempts have been made to resolve the dispute, but the matter remains unresolved.
Once you have obtained a genuine dispute certificate, you have the option of doing nothing, proceeding to arbitration to the WorkCover Magistrates’ court, refer the matter to the WorkSafe independent review service, or continue negotiating with the insurance company.