Negotiation, Power in Conciliation, and Review of Compensation Claims



Workers Compensation claims are not interpersonal disputes. Almost always they are disputes between individuals and corporations. Compensation insurers are “repeat players” in the system. Workers are often “one–shotters” who have little or infrequent contact with the system. Power inequality between the worker, employer, insurer, and those who are required to facilitate negotiations and resolve and settle disputes under compensation legislation are matters of considerable importance. This paper examines the effects of the implementation, in 1993, of informal dispute resolution processes in the Western Australian workers compensation system under the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 1981(WA), which excluded lawyers from the process. It argues that preexisting power imbalances have been aggravated by these procedural changes, and in particular, by the exclusion of legal practitioners from the dispute resolution process. The issues raised herein have general application to most workers compensation systems.