As the Judicial Council prepares Personal Injuries Guidelines to replace the Book of Quantum, the Alliance for Insurance Reform has called on the judiciary to have regard to the common good in their deliberations and reduce awards for minor personal injuries by 80%.
The Judicial Council is scheduled to adopt and publish new judicial guidelines on damages for personal injuries by 31st July at the latest. These new guidelines will replace the current Book of Quantum guidelines as to the amounts that may be awarded in personal injury claims. It is understood that draft guidelines are to be considered at a meeting of the full Judicial Council on the 5th February.
Peter Boland, Director of the Alliance, which represents charities, voluntary and community groups, sports and cultural organisations and SMEs severely affected by insurance costs said “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; 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. 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.”
Tracy Sheridan, owner of Kidspace play centres in Rathfarnham and Rathcoole and director of the Alliance said “Insurance costs remain an existential issue for Irish SMEs, charities, sports and cultural organisations, voluntary and community groups. The Irish economy is not going to recover from Covid-19 through SMEs, or Irish society through the voluntary & community sector, unless insurance is sorted.”
Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy at the Wheel (Ireland’s national association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises) and director of the Alliance said “This is a singular opportunity for the judiciary to have a profoundly positive impact on Irish community and voluntary groups and small businesses.“