12th March, 2021
Justice Minister Helen McEntee is to bring proposals to Cabinet on how to implement the new Personal Injuries Guidelines for damages. A minor legislative amendment will be needed to give legal effect to the measures.
The new guidelines will, most likely, not apply to cases assessed by the PIAB, or where court proceedings have been issued; but final clarity is awaited on this when the legislation is published.
Judges voted by 83 to 63 in favour of reducing personal injury (PI) awards, in a remote meeting on Saturday last. It was a meeting of the Judicial Council, which consists of all judges in the Irish Republic jurisdiction.
However, many solicitors practising in PI law have said that practitioners will be driven out of this type of litigation work, since it simply will not be economical, particularly at the lower end of the awards spectrum.
Former Law Society President Stuart Gilhooly told The Sunday Times that the cuts were “savage” for lower-level injuries, and very significant for severe injuries.
“This is a bonanza for the insurance industry,” he said.
He predicted that many awards would now come in below the €15,000 threshold for Circuit Court matters, while District Court fees would render such litigation “uneconomical”.
Last year, a total of 21,981 PI cases were filed in Irish courts, including 6,818 in the High Court.
The report of the Judicial Council’s Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee says that assessment of damages for whiplash injuries “requires particular care”, and all evidence in such claims requires careful scrutiny.
Allegations of whiplash injuries are “easily made and not easily disproved,” it says, and medical experts are reliant on the honesty of claimants.