Ministers agree to fast track setup of group tasked with setting guidelines on personal injury payouts
MIinisters have agreed to fast-track changes to the law to allow for the setting up of a committee of judges to set guidelines for personal injury pay-outs.
The guiding principles of the proposed committee will be that "modest injuries should attract modest damages".
The committee would also promote the need for consistency in the level of personal injuries damages being awarded by the courts.
It comes amid criticism of the slow pace of reform and concerns among business lobby groups that personal injury payouts are driving spiralling insurance costs.
Personal injury cases have hit the headlines in recent years, with businesses saying they are contributing to rising insurance costs which they are struggling to cope with.
Justice minister Charlie Flanagan today gained Cabinet approval for the priority drafting of amendments to the Judicial Council Bill 2017 to provide for the establishment of the committee that will consider guidelines for pay-outs.
The amendments are to be moved in the Seanad.
They are to give effect to a recommendation of the Personal Injuries Commission which suggested that the proposed Judicial Council should have a role in setting the guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury.
The Commission, chaired by Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, found that award levels for minor injuries in this country are almost five times higher than in the UK.
Mr Flanagan has proposed setting up the personal injuries guidelines committee within the framework of the Judicial Council.
And government spokesperson said it would mirror equivalent bodies in neighbouring jurisdictions.
"The Committee will comprise judges and will be tasked with drawing up the guidelines taking account of factors including the level of damages awarded in personal injuries actions in this State but also in comparable jurisdictions," he said.
The guiding principles will be drawn from recent Court of Appeal rulings that suggested that "modest injuries should attract modest damages".