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Monday 21 January 2019

Government and judges set for talks over injury awards

Stock photo
Stock photo
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Discussions will take place between the Government and the judiciary in the next few weeks regarding a stop-gap measure to recalibrate compensation awards for minor injuries such as whiplash.

The move comes as the Government faces mounting criticism over the slow pace of reforms aimed at cutting insurance costs.

A report by the Personal Injuries Commission last September found awards for minor injuries were almost five times the level of those in Britain.

Whiplash injury payouts, in particular, were found to be on average 4.4 times those in England and Wales.

The report called for "a rebalancing and a recalibration of awards" in line with levels in other countries and recommended that judges compile new guidelines.

It has been widely accepted this process should take place by setting up a new Judicial Council.

However, legislation allowing for this has not been progressed since November 2017.

The Department of Justice said it was hoped the bill could be enacted before the Oireachtas summer recess.

But interim measures are now also being looked at to speed up the recalibration process in the meantime.

Earlier this week, Junior Finance Minister Michael D'Arcy floated the idea of an interim judicial council because it was "going to take too long" for the bill to be passed.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and officials had been working with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board to come up with an interim measure.

"Options to achieve this will shortly be proposed for discussion with the judiciary and Courts Service as appropriate," the statement said.

Irish Independent

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