Government welcomes Judicial Council decision on personal injury guidelines

ireland
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee (Niall Carson/PA), © PA Archive/PA Images
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Members of the Government and insurance industry representative bodies have welcomed the Judicial Council's decision to adopt guidelines relating to personal injuries.

Following the decision made at a meeting of the Council earlier today, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government is committed to "bringing down the cost and increasing the availability of insurance".

"Today’s news, that the Judicial Council have agreed to adopt new personal injury guidelines and replace the existing Book of Quantum, is a really important step in the right direction," Mr Varadkar said.

"The important thing for government is that ultimately, the value of awards given in cases is consistent with the damage caused. Inflated personal injury awards inflate premiums, and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen," he added.

The Tánaiste said the guidelines will be examined by the Government in the coming days, and will be monitoring their implementation and impact to ensure they have the desired effect.

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Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the adoption of the guidelines will have a "lasting impact" on the damages awarded in personal injury claims.

It is my hope that the new guidelines will bring consistency, reduce litigation and reduce awards, which are a major driver of insurance costs.

"The overriding concern is to address with urgency the economic impacts on businesses and consumers of high insurance costs, while ensuring fair compensation when someone is injured through no fault of their own," Ms McEntee said.

"It is my hope that the new guidelines will bring consistency, reduce litigation and reduce awards, which are a major driver of insurance costs," she added.

Ms McEntee said she will bring a proposal to the Cabinet on Tuesday regarding how the new guidelines will be implemented and "how they can take legal effect as soon as possible", adding it is her intention that the guidelines will apply to all cases which have not yet been assessed by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB).

Today's news was also welcomed by the PIAB, with their chief executive Rosalind Carroll saying the guidelines will bring "greater transparency and consistency" to damages awarded.

"Importantly, they will reduce the overall levels of awards in Ireland which were until now significantly out of kilter with other countries," Ms Carroll added.

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"The ultimate impact that we should expect to see from the new guidelines is a reduction in the cost of insurance, and in time the consistency and transparency gained from the guidelines’ usage should attract more competition into the Irish Insurance market," she said.

'Deeply disappointed'

In contrast, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association (ISME) said they were deeply disappointed with some points in the guidelines.

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Commenting on the reduction in minor injuries awards, the lobby group said: "This reduction will not remove the economic incentives for people to sue, even for the most inconsequential of injuries."

A statement from ISME added an 80 per cent reduction in awards was required, claiming the guidelines approved by the Judicial Council represent a reduction of approximately 52 per cent.

"It appears to us that the Judicial Council has prioritised the livelihoods of their litigation colleagues over the urgent societal need for reform," ISME chief executive Neil McDonnell said.

"This is deeply regrettable. While we will give a more fulsome opinion in time, it is clear that Government must now fulfil its obligations to citizens and society and press on with enactment of the Civil Liability (Capping of General Damages) Bill 2019, which lapsed in the 25th Seanad," he added.

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