06/20/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/20/2019 04:52
Minister Flanagan introduces Amendments to the Judicial Council Bill providing for a Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee
20th June 2019
This morning (20 June), amendments brought forward by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, have been published by the Oireachtas. The amendments provide for a Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee to be established by the Judicial Council. The amendments will be discussed today at Report and Final Stages of the Judicial Council Bill in the Seanad.
Minister Flanagan said:
'The amendments published today give effect to a recommendation of the Personal Injuries Commission, established by Government. The proposed changes to the Judicial Council Bill will provide forthe Committee to prepare draft personal injuries guidelines which will be reviewed by Board of the Judicial Council.
'The amendment specifies that the guidelines must be submitted to the Board no later than 12 months after the establishment of the Committee. Under the Government's proposal, the Committee will be required to review the guidelines on a 3-year basis and, if the review indicates that amendments are required, the Committee is obliged to prepare a draft of such amendments for submission to the Board.
'The guidelines are to contain general guidelines as to the level of damages that may be awarded or assessed in respect of personal injuries. The Committee may also offer guidance on matters such as the range of damages to be considered for a particular injury or the impact, which multiple injuries may have on the level of damages'.
Various factors are set out which are to be taken into account by the Committee in preparing drafts of such guidelines, which will include:
To assist it in carrying out its functions, the Committee will have broad powers in relation to obtaining any information, which it might need. It may consult with appropriate persons and bodies, including the Personal Injuries Assessment Board and may conduct research as to the level of damages awarded by courts in this state and elsewhere.
The Government also proposes amending some other key legislation in this area. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 will be amended so as to remove from the Board the responsibility which it currently has for preparing the Book of Quantum and for revising that Book at least once every three years. The Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 will be amended to provide that the courts are to have regard to the personal injuries guidelines. Importantly, a court that departs from those guidelines will have to state the reasons for such departure in giving its decision.
The proposal to assign a role to the Judicial Council in compiling guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury first arose in July 2018 when the Second and Final Report of the Personal Injuries Commission was published.
Minister Flanagan concluded:
'The Personal Injuries Commission, which was chaired by Mr. Justice Nicholas Kearns, former President of the High Court, was of the view that this approach will greatly increase levels of consistency in awards, increase the frequency of early resolution of claims, and reduce costs. I am giving effect to that recommendation and it is my hope that it will make a real difference to those who are struggling due to the costs imposed on them by insurance companies.'
Note to Editors:
The Second and Final Report of the Personal Injuries Commission is available here: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Second-and-Final-Report-of-the-Personal-Injuries-Commission.pdf
Measures taken by Government to address the cost of insurance include: