PVYW v Comcare – the final word.


PVYW v Comcare – the final word.

I have previously written about this unusual case, which was decided by the High Court Of Australia yesterday. The High Court decided that the plaintiff was not entitled to compensation as her injuries were unrelated to her employment.

This is an amazing decision – everybody I discussed this case with ( both from plaintiff and defendant sides ) thought this was a no-brainer and the plaintiff should succeed as she was on a work -related trip, staying at a motel paid for by her employer and engaging in a perfectly lawful activity.

The High Court obviously saw things differently and this case will have significant ramifications in relation to workers’ entitlement to compensation.

Here’s the transcript of an article published on 30 October 2013 in the Canberra Times discussing the decision:

Public servant loses sex injury compo claim

A Canberra public servant injured in a “vigorous” sex session in a country motel six years ago has lost her claim against the federal government for workers’ compensation.

The High Court has ruled in Canberra on Wednesday morning that the woman was not entitled to compensation from the federal workplace insurer Comcare because the circumstances of her injury were not related to her employment.

But after four years before the courts the case still divides legal opinion with two High Court judges disagreeing with the majority of their colleagues and arguing the woman should have been paid out.

The case sent shockwaves through the public sector and has big implications for bosses around Australia who send employees on work trips and for workers who travel as part of their jobs.

Lawyers for Comcare argued throughout the four-year legal saga that thepublic servant should not get taxpayer-funded compensation as result of a “personal choice” to have sex while on the work trip.

But the woman’s barrister argued the public service, having sent the woman to the NSW country town, was liable for her welfare, even if she was injured while having sex.

The woman’ name has been suppressed by the courts.

The bureaucrat suffered lacerations to her nose and mouth as well as “psychological injuries” when a glass light fitting was pulled from the wall of the motel room as she had sex with a local man in Nowra in November 2007.

The legal saga has rumbled on since 2009, through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Federal Court and now the High Court.

The case has been dubbed “scheme significant” by Comcare bosses who are trying to stem a rising tide of compensation claims by public sector workers.

Appearing for the federal government at the High Court hearing in August, Commonwealth Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson, SC, told six judges that the sex activity was “in every sense a personal choice”.

The public servant’s previous appeal to the Federal Court was successfulwhen the lower court decided the Commonwealth Government, having sent the woman on the trip, was liable for everything that happened to her there, provided she was not engaging in misconduct.

But Comcare’s appeal to Australia’s highest court argued that the injury was sustained during an interval or interlude to the woman’s official duties and was not “compensable”.

In a judgment handed down in Canberra on Wednesday morning, the High Court upheld Comcare’s appeal in a 4-2 majority decision.

Here’s the link to the article:


Here’s the link to the High Court decision:



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