Lawyer David Lander. Photo: Melissa Adams
Federal workplace insurer Comcare deliberately ignores and flouts the law in a bid to keep the cost of public service workers’ compensation payouts down, according to Canberra lawyer David Lander.
But Comcare says Mr Lander peddles emotive and offensive accusations, bullies and intimidates the insurer’s employees and the lawyer will remain banned from speaking to the insurer’s caseworkers.
The exchange of accusations between Mr Lander and senior government counsel Thena Kyprianou last week is the latest flare-up in the extraordinary feud between the tough talking lawyer and the workplace insurer, which has seen Comcare ban Mr Lander from speaking to its staffers.
Mr Lander has a reputation as a tormentor of Canberra’s officialdom, earning himself a rebuke from the ACT Law Society in 2006 for going over the top with officials in the ACT Education Department while seeking a medical retirement for one of his clients.
But after a three-year legal battle, the ACT Court of Appeal found the lawyer had the right to use robust language in his dealings with bureaucrats, a decision that infuriated the Law Society.
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Mr Lander’s grudge match with Comcare has been heating up.
The lawyer recently asked the insurer to reconsider its ban on his talking its delegates and caseworkers on behalf of his client.
But in response, Ms Kyprianou, was blunt.
‘‘The reason the embargo was imposed was because Comcare is concerned that your intemperate language and emotive accusations of impropriety have an intimidatory effect on staff, which in turn affects their wellbeing,’’ Ms Kyprianou wrote.
‘‘Despite asking you to desist from using the offensive language, you have not done so.
‘‘You have advised me instead that you see it as your duty in representing your clients, to continue making the accusations no matter how offensive Comcare staff find them to be.’’
Ms Kyprianou advised Mr Lander that his only point of contact with Comcare, through a senior official, would continue unless he agreed to ‘‘refrain from making accusations of impropriety, accusing staff of acting unethically and generally using abusive and discourteous language’’.
The offer was not acceptable, with Mr Lander denying that he had abused Comcare’s delegates and that it was he who was owed an apology.
‘‘It is never abusive and never blasphemous,’’ the lawyer wrote.
‘‘Respect has to be earned and if Comcare treats its employees as Comcare now does it is Comcare that is placing their health and their reputations at risk.
‘‘The community deserves better use of its taxpaying dollar.
‘‘I deserve an apology.
‘‘More critically my clients do not deserve to be blackmailed or the subject of unlawful communication embargoes.’’
The ban remains in place.