The Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar TD, the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Sean Fleming TD and Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Robert Troy TD have welcomed the adoption by the Judicial Council, at its meeting today, of the draft personal injuries guidelines which were furnished to the Board of the Council in December.
Welcoming the adoption of the guidelines, the Tánaiste said,
‘’This Government is committed to bringing down the cost and increasing the availability of insurance, especially for businesses and voluntary groups. Today’s news, that the Judicial Council have agreed to adopt new personal injury guidelines and replace the existing Book of Quantum, is a really important step in the right direction.
“We will now carefully consider what is set out in the new guidelines. We will have to see how they bed down over the next few months to see if any further action is needed. The important thing for government is that ultimately, the value of awards given in cases is consistent with the damage caused. Inflated personal injury awards inflate premiums and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“The publication of these guidelines is an action in the Government’s Action Plan for Insurance Reform which we published last year. As well as examining the guidelines over the next few days, we will also be monitoring their implementation and reporting on their impact to ensure they have the desired effect.”
Welcoming the announcement by the Judicial Council, Minister McEntee said:
“This is an important step which I hope will have a lasting impact on the award of damages in personal injuries cases.
“The overriding concern is to address with urgency the economic impacts on businesses and consumers of high insurance costs, while ensuring fair compensation when someone is injured through no fault of their own. It is my hope that the new Guidelines will bring consistency, reduce litigation and reduce awards, which are a major driver of insurance costs.
“The guidelines will of course require further consideration in the coming days and I will report on the implementation of the guidelines and the initial impact they have by the end of the year.
“I want to commend the Personal Injuries Committee, and the Judicial Council, for progressing this important matter in the area of insurance reform.This is an important part of our Action Plan for Insurance Reform, which we published in December.
“I also want to commend the work of the many groups who have consistently campaigned for reform in this area, as well as colleagues who have worked for years in government to effect change.
“I will bring proposals to Cabinet on Tuesday on how we will implement the new guidelines and how they can take legal effect as soon as possible.”
Minister McEntee intends that the new Personal Injuries Guidelines will apply to all cases that have not yet been assessed by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. This approach will ensure that the law is robust as we seek to reduce the cost of insurance.
Last October, the Government amended the Judicial Council Act 2019, to ensure that the personal injuries guidelines would be adopted and published by, at the latest, 31 July 2021, three months earlier than originally required under the Act. Today’s announcement means that they are being delivered further ahead of schedule by the Committee and the Council.
Commenting on the decision, the Minister of State with responsibility for Insurance, Sean Fleming TD stated:
‘’I note the adoption of the new personal injuries guidelines by the Judicial Council. The Government will examine these carefully in the coming days. Our aim is to create a more sustainable claims environment.
This is only one of sixty-six actions in the Government’s plan to reform the insurance sector to benefit consumers all around the country.
I will now meet with the Chief Executives of the main insurers to stress that these new guidelines must lead to a reduction in customer’s premiums.
“It’s now an imperative that we hear firm public commitments by insurance companies that Irish customers will benefit from any savings ‘’
Minister of State with responsibility for Trade Promotion Robert Troy TD said:
“I welcome the decision of the Judicial Council to approve the Personal Injuries Guidelines. We now have certainty on judicial opinion and Government will now review and consider the Guidelines over the coming days.
“Our objective in Government is for reduced insurance premiums for business and consumers, and I’ll be seeking government legislation if this doesn’t address the challenges facing industry.
“The Guidelines will also be important in terms of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, where work continues at pace to reform and expand its remit to allow for a greater number of personal injury cases to be processed under it.
“A more sustainable and predictable insurance system will benefit everyone. The new Guidelines along with other actions in the Government’s Action Plan for Insurance Reform will help drive down the costs of insurance. I look forward to their full impact in the future at which point I would expect to see insurance companies passing on the benefits to their customers.”
As provided for in the Action Plan for Insurance Reform, Minister McEntee will make a report on the implementation and initial impact of the guidelines by the end of 2021.
Notes for Editors
Queries about the content of the guidelines and their publication should be directed to the Judicial Council.
The Judicial Council
The then Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, signed a commencement order for the Judicial Council Act, allowing the Council to formally come into being, on 17th December 2019.
The establishment of a Judicial Council was a major landmark development in the history of the Irish judiciary, formalising a number of very important judicial functions. These include:
- Provision for the continuing education of judges through the Judicial Studies Committee
- The creation of Guidelines for awards in Personal Injuries cases through the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee
- The creation of Sentencing Guidelines through the Sentencing Guidelines Committee
- The creation of a judicial code of conduct and the introduction of mechanisms for dealing with complaints
The first full meeting of the Judicial Council took place in the first week of February, 2020.