Insurance Ireland says Judicial Council Personal Injuries Guidelines a step in the right direction but not the radical reform needed
Issued 6 March, 2021. Insurance Ireland said the Judicial Council’s new guidelines on personal injury awards issued today are a step in the right direction but do not represent the comprehensive reform that Insurance Ireland was seeking. Insurance Ireland believes that while the new guidelines will help to reduce costs over time, these reductions could have been much greater had the proposals been more radical and sought to bring Ireland more into line with the UK and other European countries, particularly on the issue of soft tissue injuries.
Speaking about the publication of the Guidelines, Moyagh Murdock, CEO, Insurance Ireland, said:
“The Judicial Council have published an extensive document and we will need some time to study the detail. However, our initial view is that the new guidelines do not go far enough to address the high cost of claims in Ireland. Overall, there is more work to be done and Insurance Ireland is committed to working with Government and other stakeholders to achieve greater reform in the claims environment in order to bring more certainty and sustainability to the Insurance market. Insurance Ireland believes that while the new guidelines will help to reduce costs over time, these reductions could have been much greater had the proposals been more radical and sought to bring Ireland more into line with the UK and other European countries, particularly on the issue of soft tissue injuries.”
“Of particular concern in today’s announcement by the Judicial Council is the fact that for soft tissue injuries such as minor neck injuries, an award range of €500 to €12,000 is indicated,” said Moyagh Murdock, “Interpretation of “substantial recovery” is going to have a significant bearing on the awards, and there is still a risk of judges making widely varying awards of damages in respect of relatively comparable injuries. Also of concern is that the new guidelines are not retrospective, which means any claims currently going through the system will attract awards based on the old book of quantum regime. However, we welcome Minister McEntee’s statement from last night in which she said she intends that the new Personal Injuries Guidelines will apply to all cases that have not yet been assessed by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, and also that the Minister will bring proposals to Cabinet on Tuesday on how to implement the new Guidelines. Whatever the actual reduction in awards which stems from the implementation of the Guidelines, the industry remains committed to passing on the savings.”
“Insurance Ireland has been calling for reform for many years and believes that meaningful reductions in award levels will benefit consumers and lead to decreased volatility and increased competition in the market over time.”
“We strongly support the Action Plan for Insurance Reform and we recognise that a lot of work has gone into today’s element of the reform,” said Moyagh Murdock, “We shouldn’t be distracted from the full reform agenda, including reform of PIAB and the rebalancing of the duty of care between business and the citizen so that trivial and frivolous claims can be eliminated from the system.”
“In 2018, the Personal Injuries Commission found that Irish award levels are 4.4 times higher than those in England and Wales, which underlines the need for urgent reform. The guidelines published today represent an important first step on the journey towards fairer and more consistent outcomes.