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Tribunal backs release of blood alcohol test result

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The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal has backed the release of a blood alcohol test result to be used in an insurance claim over a boating accident.

Tribunal Senior Member Michael Wall ruled the benefit of releasing the result to AIG and underwriting agency NM Insurance outweighs public interest arguments against disclosure.

“The release of the blood sample analysis will enable the insurer to determine the indemnity claim in respect of damage to the vessel,” he says in a judgment, adding that the blood test data could also “result in a potential financial benefit to the insured”.

“On the evidence before me, I consider that the release of the information could contribute in a substantial way to the resolution of the insurance claim.”

The claim for $341,000 was lodged after the vessel Aussie Joy collided with an unknown object near Crescent Head NSW on April 14 last year while the owner and two other people were aboard.

Police took a blood sample from the driver as part of the investigation, but declined to give the insurance company access to the results. Concerns about revealing personal information and privacy principles were raised as public interest arguments against disclosure.

An affidavit from an NM Insurance claims officer says it appears alcohol may have played a role in the accident, and that without the blood test results it is “not reasonably possible” to make a final determination on the claim.

The hearing was also told the person who supplied the blood test did not respond to a letter inviting him to contest disclosure.

The decision is available here.