Cabinet Approval for Amendments to Duty of Care
Yesterday, 18 May 2022, Justice Minister Helen McEntee received Cabinet approval on a proposal to amend the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1995 and tackle the issue of rebalancing the Duty of Care.
Insurance Ireland was very pleased to learn of this Cabinet decision, as the rebalance of the Duty of Care represents a key element of the Government’s Action Plan on Insurance Reform.
The proposed changes would see occupiers' Duty of Care responsibilities balanced with personal responsibilities, including those of consumers, visitors and recreational users. The need for this change has been repeatedly highlighted by Insurance Ireland to Government, up to and including our appearance before the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Taoiseach earlier this month.
If the amendments are passed, we would see a number of recent court decisions rebalancing the duty of care inserted into primary law.
A rebalancing of the Duty of Care has been long sought after by Insurance Ireland and its members as it was unfairly balanced towards occupiers, specifically business owners. The proposed changes would include a wider range of scenarios where it can be shown that a visitor or customer has voluntarily assumed a risk resulting in harm will be allowed. The standard used would become the level of reckless disregard for a visitor or customer by the occupier of a property rather than the current "reasonable grounds" standard when considering liability. A further welcome development would be limits placed on the circumstances in which a court can impose liability on the occupier of a premises where a person has entered onto it in order to commit a crime.
The proposed amendments will form part of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022. This Bill is on the priority list for publication this Dáil session.
Moyagh Murdock says:
I am delighted by the decision of Cabinet to approve a proposal to amend the Duty of Care in Ireland. We at Insurance Ireland have long called for the Duty of Care to be rebalanced, which is a key element to progress insurance reform in this country. A common sense approach is missing in too many instances leading to insurers exiting the market and making Ireland an unattractive place to do business compared to many other jurisdictions.
Together with the Bill to strengthen the mandate of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, which Insurance Ireland will be supporting in the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment later this month, and the already implemented Personal Injuries Guidelines this rebalancing will contribute towards a consistent and comprehensive suite of reforms to the Irish market for insurance.