New guidelines on personal injury damages to be considered
A full meeting of the Judicial Council will consider draft guidelines which, if adopted, will recalibrate the level of damages that can be awarded to claimants involved in personal injury cases.
The new guidance has been drawn up by the council’s Personal Injuries Committee, following a detailed analysis of the issue and was submitted to the council’s board before Christmas.
Insurance reform campaigners are seeking an 80% cut in the level of personal injury awards being granted by the courts for minor injuries.
They think this will help significantly in reducing the cost of insurance, particularly public and employers’ liability cover.
A cut of this size would bring the compensation in line with that being awarded by courts in England and Wales, but still leave it above that awarded in other European countries.
If the council signs off on the proposals today, it is expected that they will then be published.
They then have to be adopted by 31 July at the latest, replacing the current Book of Quantum guidelines that is used to calculate the size of awards.
Compensation is the single-biggest element of the cost of insurance according to the Cost of Insurance Working Group, the Personal Injuries Commission and the Central Bank’s National Claims Information Database, the Alliance for Insurance Reform has said.
General damages for minor injuries account for the vast bulk of compensation payouts, Peter Boland from the Alliance said.
The Government’s Personal Injuries Commission report revealed that the average compensation award for whiplash injuries is approximately 4.4 times higher than in Britain.
Insurers have said that if the Judicial Council reduces the level of personal injury awards it will cut the cost of premiums.
Nineteen State reports over recent years have highlighted the need for insurance reform.
The Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee of the Judicial Council was given six months from its establishment to prepare and submit to the council’s board draft Personal Injuries Guidelines.
It also must review those guidelines from time to time.