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Clamp down on rogues who fuel claims culture, minister urges Law Society


Junior Minister Michael D’Arcy 
Photo: Damien Eagers/INM

Junior Minister Michael D’Arcy Photo: Damien Eagers/INM

Junior Minister Michael D’Arcy Photo: Damien Eagers/INM

The minister responsible for tackling spiralling insurance costs has called for investigations into how some doctors and solicitors are fuelling a compensation culture.

Junior Finance Minister Michael D'Arcy says medical and legal regulatory bodies must probe the involvement of their members in exaggerated or fraudulent claims.

He spoke out as Fianna Fáil criticised the slow pace of reform, claiming a lack of movement by Government has given people an incentive to make claims.

An undercover investigation by the Irish Independent exposed how some doctors are actively encouraging patients to bring claims for whiplash injuries.

Fine Gael minister Mr D'Arcy said: "It isn't good enough.

"It is now for the regulatory bodies [the Law Society and Medical Council] to deal with. We need to have a properly constructed sector.

"It is concerning if there are professionals who may know cases are exaggerated or fraudulent."

Mr D'Arcy said he has a "huge amount of respect" for the medical and legal professions, but added: "I do get annoyed by some cases that are being presented."

The Irish Independent's investigation found some doctors are actively encouraging patients to bring personal injury claims, with some even recommending particular legal firms.

An undercover reporter was told by a solicitor that "insurers just want to throw money at you" and settle personal injury claims.

Mr D'Arcy said a report from the Central Bank is expected within a couple of weeks which will provide details on how many claims are being settled, the level of premiums being paid and the level of awards.

"I can understand insurance companies paying because every day in certain courts can be €30,000 to €50,000," said the minister.

"If the claim is less than that, it's a commercial reality, but that doesn't make it right, it doesn't make it appropriate and doesn't make it correct.

"There are dozens of exaggerated cases where people are looking for more than they should."

Mr D'Arcy said his main aim is to get the level of awards down, but he also intends to look at the area of legal fees.

"Legal fees are a huge part of it, the figures we have [show] that up to 40pc can go towards legal fees."

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil's business spokesman Robert Troy said the Irish Independent investigation highlights that "an insidious cabal exists" between a minority of doctors and solicitors "who are the big winners out of this".

He claimed: "They have been free to carry out their activities as a result of Government lethargy."

He said that Fianna Fáil introduced a Bill aimed at tackling insurance fraud in 2018 but there has been "no movement".

Mr Troy said Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan indicated in March that there would be a decision on progressing the Bill or not, but it still hasn't happened.

Last night Mr Flanagan said: "It is my duty to ensure that all legislation which passes my desk is constitutionally sound, legally robust and workable."

He added that there are "legal and constitutional concerns" with the Bill.

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