Categories: Press Releases

by Brian Hanley

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PRESS RELEASE

6th March 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

  • Today marks the third anniversary since the adoption of the Personal Injury Guidelines (aka the Judicial Guidelines).
  • In reviewing the Judicial Guidelines we believe it “is necessary that greater certainty be provided in terms of uplift for secondary injuries and that the Council avoid calls for an increase in awards so soon after their introduction and based on a mistaken interpretation of the difference between general and special damages.
  • “Awards settled using [the Guidelines] are approximately 41% lower than those awarded under the old Book of Quantum (PIAB, 2022), which has gone some way towards bringing us into line with other jurisdictions. Unfortunately, while these and other reforms may have led to savings, those savings are still not being passed on to policy holders.”

The 6th of March marks the third anniversary since the introduction of the Judicial Guidelines. It is also the date when the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee must have provided a review of the Guidelines to the Judicial Council. The Alliance for Insurance Reform believes it is necessary that greater certainty be provided in terms of uplift for secondary injuries and that the Council avoid calls for an increase in awards based on a mistaken interpretation of the difference between general and special damages.

“The current Guidelines have proven effective in reducing the size of awards in personal injury cases” said Flora Crowe, Alliance Board member and grocery stores owner. “Awards settled using them are approximately 41% lower[1] than those awarded under the old Book of Quantum, which has gone some way towards bringing us into line with other jurisdictions” (our awards for minor injuries are still multiples of the awards made in other European countries). Unfortunately, while these and other reforms may have led to savings, those savings are still not being passed on to policy holders.”

In the coming years fewer and fewer cases will be settled using the old Book of Quantum meaning the value of awards made annually would be expected to continue to fall. “This should have already led directly to a drop in insurance premiums for businesses, sports groups, as well as community and voluntary organisations, with more reductions to come. However, some weaknesses and potential weaknesses in the Guidelines have already become apparent.” said Peter Boland, Alliance Board member and CEO of the Car Rental Council of Ireland.

“To protect the credibility of the Guidelines and the process of reducing insurance premiums it is critical that the Judicial Council provide specific guidance on the uplift issue so that we can have a degree of certainty and stability about awards where secondary injuries are claimed for.”

“It is also vital that the Council avoid calls for an increase in awards so soon after their introduction and based on a mistaken interpretation of the difference between general and special damages. Whilst special damages increase directly in line with inflation to offset out-of-pocket expenses such as physiotherapy appointments or future medical care, the same justification doesn’t exist when it comes to general damages, which have only begun the process of aligning with other jurisdictions after years of arbitrary and damaging increases.”

Research should also be commissioned to assess how the existing Guidelines are being implemented, particularly at Circuit Court level, which is where the majority of injury claims are now heard. Capturing this type of data on an ongoing basis will improve future reviews and help ensure the Guidelines are having the impact intended.

“The Judicial Guidelines have started the process of delivering what they were created to do – provide consistent, fair and reasonable awards in personal injury cases. But that process is still in its early stages and remains partial and fragile and needs strong leadership from the Judicial Council in order to continue delivering, as Irish policyholders desperately need.”

—ENDS—

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: contact@insurancereform.ie or Alliance CEO, Brian Hanley at 086 8620 974.

Notes

  1. The Alliance for Insurance Reform brings together 46 civic and business organisations from across Ireland, representing over 55,000 members, 700,000 employees, 614,000 volunteers and 374,000 students in highlighting the negative impact of persistently high premiums and calling for real reforms that will quickly reduce liability and motor insurance premiums to affordable levels and keep them that way.

[1] PIAB Annual Report 2022