The Council is scheduled to adopt and publish new judicial guidelines on damages for personal injuries by the 31st of July at the latest. The new guidelines will replace the current Book of Quantum guidelines as to the amounts that may be awarded in personal injury claims. It’s understood that draft guidelines are to be considered at a meeting of the full Judicial Council on the 5th of February.
“The single biggest element of the cost of insurance, as determined by the Cost of Insurance Working Group, the Personal Injuries Commission and the Central Bank’s National Claims Information Database, is compensation” explained AIR Director Peter Boland, “and general damages for minor injuries account for the vast majority of compensation payouts. What we award for minor, fully-recovered injuries in Ireland is 4.4 times higher than in England & Wales and further multiples higher than other European jurisdictions.
“An 80% reduction on minor injuries would only bring us down to where England and Wales currently are and would still be nowhere near the equivalent damages in other European countries – and England and Wales are further slashing their damages for minor whiplash injuries later this year.
“We call on the Judicial Council to have regard to the common good in reducing general damages for fully-recovered minor injuries by at least 80% to reflect international norms and norms already established by the Court of Appeal.
“We are not talking about damages for serious injuries here,” he stressed, “Where a person is seriously injured due the negligence of someone else they must be properly compensated and that is what insurance is there for. What we are talking about are the bumps, bruises and mild, fully-recovered whiplash injuries where treatment ends when the legal action is finished. We reward these injuries at a level unprecedented in Europe and these are the awards that are damaging Irish society.”
Another AIR Director Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy at the Wheel (Ireland’s national association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises), said, “This is a singular opportunity for the judiciary to have a profoundly positive impact on Irish community and voluntary groups and small businesses”.
The Alliance – which represents charities, voluntary and community groups, sports and cultural organisations and SMEs severely affected by insurance costs – has welcomed the recent publication of the Government’s report of the SME Taskforce: SME and Entrepreneurship Growth Plan.
Key insurance-related recommendations in the report include:
- Dramatically reducing the cost of Employers & Public Liability insurance via measures targeted at the cost of claims and the duty of care
- Encouraging greater competition by seeking out additional multinational underwriters to supply the Irish market
- Developing best practice health & safety training for SMEs via Skillnet
- Creating a process for attracting EU operators to the Irish market and/or encouraging Irish players to provide insurance services for SMEs.
“While we welcome the content of this report and will obviously engage with its implementation, we now have 19 reports from the State in the last four years which highlight the need for urgent insurance reform,” said Peter Boland, “The success of this report will be measured by the actions that follow and how quickly they happen.“
Tracy Sheridan, owner of Kidspace play centres in Rathfarnham and Rathcoole, another Alliance Director, added, “The Irish economy is not going to recover from Covid-19 through SMEs unless insurance is sorted because insurance costs remain an existential issue for Irish SMEs.”
The other 18 reports are:
- The Oireachtas Finance Committee Report on Insurance Costs
- The Cost of Insurance Working Group Motor Insurance report
- The Cost of Insurance Working Group Liability Insurance report
- 11 CIWG Updates (counted as one)
- 4 PIAB Annual Reports
- The Oireachtas Business Committee Report on the Cost of Doing Business
- The reports of the Personal Injuries Commission (2)
- The PIAB Personal Injury Conference
- The Dept of Justice Report on the Impact of Changes to the Jurisdiction Limits made in 2014
- Two National Claims Information Database reports from the Central Bank
- The preliminary findings of the CCPC investigation into motor insurance
- The CCPC Market Study on Liability Insurance
- The Review of the Administration of Civil Justice Report