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Friday 28 October 2016

Excessive personal injury awards feeding litigation culture - Ibec

Published 26/07/2016 | 07:22

Danny McCoy, Director General IBEC;
Danny McCoy, Director General IBEC;

Excessive personal injury awards are feeding a culture of litigation, employers’ body Ibec said.

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The lobby group’s intervention comes days after Enterprise Insurance collapsed leaving 14,000 drivers effectively with no cover.

Ibec called for measures to be introduced to rein in what it said was the rising cost of personal injury claims, in what will be seen as an attack on the judiciary.

Insurers have largely blamed the rising cost of injury awards in courts for fact that the average motor premium shot up by almost 40pc last year.

Now Ibec head of infrastructure Neil Walker said the cost of claims was putting pressure on insurance premiums and risks feeding into higher consumer prices.

He said that across a rage of minor injuries, compensation levels in this country were typically double those in the UK.

“Irish court judgements are often far higher than the guidelines,” Dr Walker following the publication of an Ibec report the impact of injury claims on businesses.

“The entire claims process is no longer fit for purpose for many businesses. Minor accidents are increasingly prompting compensation claims.

“And even when liability is not contested, those claims often lead to unnecessary, costly court cases,” Dr Walker said.

He said this was because compensation awards in court tend to be higher than what is recommended by the Injuries Board, the state body that makes awards without the need to be represented by a solicitor.

Claimants who do not accept an Injuries Board award, or who do not co-operate with it, can then take their case to court.

Ibec said the Injuries Board must also take steps to ensure it is viewed as an impartial service by claimants and defendants alike.

Solicitors representing claimants, particularly on minor injuries, should adopt a voluntary code of practice to prevent court proceedings from being dragged out unnecessarily, Ibec said.

And insurers should publish more detailed information on the personal injuries claims that they settle, as well as on any other factors that may be driving up premiums.

The Ibec report comes days after Gibraltar-regulated Enterprise Insurance went bust after its regulator ordered it to cease business and to stop making any payments.

It operated here under the Wrightway brand, a company owned by Zurich.

The 14,000 motorists insured with Enterprise have been advised to seek alterative cover immediately.

Wrightway is to fund the cost of replacement cover for those affected by the collapse of Enterprise.

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