- In Registrar-General of NSW v LawCover Insurance Pty Ltd  NSWCA 241, the Court analysed the application of s 6 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1946 (NSW) (in the context of the claim) and gave a very thorough analysis of the meaning of ‘event’ for the purposes of the section.
- The Registrar-General claimed that the relevent ‘event’ was the third party’s commencement of proceedings against him in relation to compensable loss and was, accordingly, covered by policy.
- The Court of Appeal established however that the ‘event’ was the event that caused loss to the third party and since it occurred before the policy became effective, the Registrar-General’s right of subrogation was not engaged as an event within the meaning of the section.
Section 6 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1946 (NSW) (the Act) has, throughout its troubled history, received a number of critical remarks from the judiciary. It was characterised as ‘undoubtedly opaque and ambiguous’ by Kirby P in NSW Medical Defence Union v Crawford (1993) 31 NSWLR 469 at 479. And in McMillan v Mannix (1993) 31 NSWLR 538, his Honour also said that ‘ambiguity may be its only clear feature’ (at ). In more recent times, the Court of Appeal suggested that ‘it should be repealed altogether or completely redrafted in an intelligible form’ (Chubb Insurance Company of Australia Limited v Moore  NSWCA 212).
Whilst section 6 of the Act awaits the attention of the legislature, the judiciary has a difficult task of interpreting its scope and limitations on a case by case basis. The authorities on this section are scarce and the most recent judgment providing much needed guidance on the general application of s 6 (particularly in the context of a claim made pursuant to a subrogated right acquired under s 133(2) of the Real Property Act 1900 (NSW)) was given by the NSW Court of Appeal in Registrar-General of NSW v LawCover Insurance Pty Ltd  NSWCA 241. Notably, this judgment has since been cited in a more recent Court of Appeal decision in Guild Insurance Ltd v Hepburn  NSWCA 400.
In this case, the Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the decision of Harrison J at first instance (Registrar-General of NSW v LawCover  NSWSC 1471), refusing leave to the Registrar-General to commence proceedings under s 6 of the Act against Lawcover.