New guide for insurance cases to curb big payouts
New guidelines for the size of personal injury awards are to be published by the end of the month, as insurance costs continue to spiral, the Irish Independent has learned.
The "book of quantum" will be used by the Injuries Board and is also intended to act as a guide for the judiciary and legal professionals as to the appropriate level of damages which should be awarded in a particular case.
Its publication comes as insurers voice concerns over what they see as inconsistencies in the size of awards made by the courts. The size of awards is said to be one of several factors to blame for the 70pc rise in motor premiums over three years.
British data analyst ISO was commissioned to compile to guidelines, which are based on a study of 52,000 cases from 2013 and 2014.
This analysis will set the benchmark for awards. Government officials hope that if people can be convinced they would get the same award from the Injuries Board as they would in court, that it will dissuade them from getting involved in expensive litigation.
Meetings have been taking place between the Injuries Board, the Courts Service and senior judges in recent months in a bid to achieve "buy in" to the new guidelines.
While judges will not be bound by the new guide, they must have regard to it.
A number of judges have complained in recent years that the existing book of quantum, which was compiled more than 12 years ago, was of little use.
The Irish Independent understands that in future there will not be lengthy gaps in between updates of the book and that it is envisaged it would be refreshed every two to three years from now on.
A trend towards lower court pay-outs has begun to emerge in recent months, with the Court of Appeal significantly reducing a number of personal injury awards this year.
However, certain categories of awards are likely to increase following the publication of the new book of quantum, with indications that there will be a 10pc rise in the recommended pay-out for lower-level injuries.
On the flipside, the guide will recommend lower awards for more serious injuries and permanent injuries.
Sources said it would provide more granular information, including detailed descriptions of injuries, to make it easier for judges to match what they read in a medical report with what is contained in the guide.