At an International Fraud Prevention conference in Dublin recently Former High Court president Nicholas Kearns questioned whether the Law Society is doing enough to clamp down on solicitors associated with fraudulent personal injury claims as judges become increasingly aware of the damage to jobs caused by such claims.
He even alluded to a running out of public patience with the delay in reforms to the insurance system.
Having headed up the Personal Injuries Commission he was able to state that if there are higher levels of awards than ours anywhere in the European Union, the Commission was unable to find them.
It’s also interesting to note his comment that when the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland decided to fight suspect claims, a third of them were dropped.
But he also stressed that insurers need to move from their traditional policy of buying off dodgy or suspect claimants with ‘all-in’ settlements to avoid court costs.
But there’s more to this.
With lawyers making over €350 million a year in the personal injury compensation space, “It has never been clearer that vested interests are at play here,” commented Peter Boland of the Association for Insurance Reform.
As Peter says, the Judicial Council Bill will help educate judges “… but make no mistake, the legal reps will fight tooth-and-nail to defend their incomes”.
Also feeding out of this trough are the medical profession and insurance brokers.
But there’s still more to this.
As insurance premia continue to soar – by 44% in the case of some VFI members over the past five years – we have to ask ourselves just what is the reason that the government is pointedly not doing anything about the apparent ease with which one can add to the crushingly high cost of insurance and compensation payouts in Ireland?
Perhaps it’s because their own party TDs don’t see the damage such high claims do to businesses’ insurance premia. One – take a bow Maria Bailey Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghire here – took a claim for €60,000 for falling off a swing in The Dean Hotel before it was reported that three weeks after the accident she was running a 10K marathon.
And while we don’t know all the details of this case, Kudos to the Dean Hotel and its insurance company for being prepared to stand up to her.