A meeting of the country’s judges has been adjourned for two weeks to allow them to further consider proposed new guidelines expected to reduce general damages awards for many personal injuries, especially minor soft tissue injuries.
The meeting of the Judicial Council, held via video conference and chaired by the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, ran for more than two hours on Friday and addressed a number of matters before being adjourned.
A spokesman for the council told The Irish Times the meeting had been adjourned to February 20th for further consideration of the guidelines, which have been unanimously recommended for adoption by the board of the council and its Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee.
The spokesman declined to make any further comment however.
Prepared by a committee of seven judges chaired by High Court president Ms Justice Mary Irvine, the guidelines will apply if a majority of judges vote in favour of them.
The guidelines have yet to be published but they are expected to propose major reductions in personal injury awards, to be achieved by significantly cutting back on the scope for judicial discretion when making awards by setting tighter limits on awards for specific injuries.
The tighter limits would mean more predictable outcomes to cases, leading to more and earlier settlements and cutting back considerably on legal costs. They are also likely to discourage plaintiffs from bringing cases to the High Court, where significantly higher legal costs apply.
The guidelines were prepared following examination of damage awards here and in other countries.