She argues that the commissioner cannot transcend his statutorily defined jurisdictional boundaries; see Dow- ling v Slotnik, 244 Conn. 781, 800, 712 A.2d 396, cert. denied sub nom. Slotnik v. Considine, 525 U.S. 1017, 119 S. Ct. 542, 142 L. Ed. 2d 451 (1998); and absent specific authorization by the Workers’ Compensation Act; General Statutes § 31-275 et seq.; a commissioner cannot order a plaintiff to submit to an examination by a nonphysician, such as a vocational rehabilitation specialist. We disagree.
‘‘Ordinarily, [an appellate] court affords deference to the construction of a statute applied by the administra- tive agency empowered by law to carry out the statute’s purposes. . . . [A]n agency’s factual and discretionary determinations are to be accorded considerable weight by the courts. . . . Cases that present pure questions of law, however, invoke a broader standard of review than is ordinarily involved in deciding whether, in light of the evidence, the agency has acted unreasonably, arbitrarily, illegally or in abuse of its discretion. . . . Furthermore, when a state agency’s determination of a question of law has not previously been subject to judicial scrutiny . . . the agency is not entitled to spe- cial deference.’’ (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Burke v. Fleet National Bank, 252 Conn. 1, 9–10, 742 A.2d 293 (1999). Whether General Statutes § 31-294f4 precludes a commissioner from com- pelling a plaintiff to submit to a vocational rehabilitation examination, conducted by a person who is not a physi- cian, is a question that has not been previously subject to judicial consideration. As that novel issue presents a question of law, our review is plenary.
Although the plain language of § 31-294f authorizes physical or mental examinations ‘‘by a reputable prac- ticing physician or surgeon,’’5 and the defendants’ voca- tional rehabilitation expert is not a medical doctor, § 31- 294f does not limit the equitable powers of the commis- sioner. General Statutes § 31-278 provides in relevant part that the commissioner ‘‘shall . . . have power to summon and examine under oath such witnesses, and may direct the production of, and examine or cause to be produced or examined, such books, records, vouch- ers, memoranda, documents, letters, contracts or other papers in relation to any matter at issue as he may find proper, and shall have the same powers in reference thereto as are vested in magistrates taking depositions and shall have the power to order depositions pursuant to section 52-148. He shall have power to certify to official acts and shall have all powers necessary to enable him to perform the duties imposed upon him by the provisions of this chapter. . . .’’ The commission- er’s abilities are further expanded by General Statutes § 31-298, which provides in relevant part that ‘‘the com- missioner shall proceed, so far as possible, in accor- dance with the rules of equity. He shall not be bound by the ordinary common law or statutory rules of evi-