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1.4.1 Dealing with Representatives of Claimants
Claimants have a right to approach Ex-Service Organisations (ESOs) for advice and to communicate with DVA through their legal/ESO advisers if they choose to do so. In such cases, direct communication with the client should be avoided and any necessary letters or other communications should be addressed to their legal/ESO representative.
It is acceptable to act on the written advice of a firm of solicitors that they represent a claimant. Direct confirmation by the client is not required unless there is some confusion about the issue (eg. two different organisations claim they have instructions to act). Where, however, a person other than a solicitor claims to be acting on behalf of, or assisting, a client, their authority to act should be confirmed with the client.
If written representations are received in a DVA Location office from a State, Territory or Federal Member of Parliament, Senator or similar, the matter should be discussed with staff in the Military Compensation Policy Section of the Canberra office. Staff based in Locations other than Canberra should not respond to such written representations other than to acknowledge that the correspondence has been received and has been referred to the Canberra office for investigation and a direct reply.
If verbal representations are received in a DVA Location from a State, Territory or Federal Member of Parliament, Senator or similar, staff may assist the person making the enquiry, providing they are satisfied that the person making the enquiry has the claimant's authority to act on his or her behalf. Where necessary, this authority should be confirmed with the claimant before providing any information about the claimant or his or her claims.
Breaches of a claimant's privacy are serious matters and must be avoided. Where it is considered appropriate to release personal information over the telephone, the name of the person making the enquiry and other relevant details must be recorded on file. It is also important to document any advice given.