Sir Owen (as he was known) was the architect of the New Zealand Accident Compensation Scheme (ACC). Sir Owen served during World War II as a Motor Torpedo Boat commander. He had many legendary exploits of bravery and initiative associated with his service for which he was awarded the DSC.
Within the legal profession, Sir Owen rose to become President of the Court of Appeal, then New Zealand’s highest judicial office. Woodhouse chaired the Royal Commission (1966-67) that, in a revolutionary piece of conceptual thinking, proposed a scheme that removed the element of fault from compensation for injury. For those whose only experience of accident compensation has been to obtain compensation through a link to fault, as it was in New Zealand prior to ACC, this was a unique way of dealing with an expensive and litigious process that could delay resolving and then rectifying the injury for years.
Although ACC was never implemented exactly as Sir Owen had designed it, it was nonetheless an outstanding template that also attracted interest in Australia. One shortcoming in the scheme as it was implemented in New Zealand was the absence of coverage for sickness-related health issues. Although later recommended by Woodhouse this was never implemented and it became a frequently tested boundary as, for example, when claims of medical misadventure were pursued as accident-related rather than due to illness in order to gain compensation.
Woodhouse, (Sir) Arthur Owen
Died 15 April 2014
aged 97 years
Block E Row 59 Plot 65