Concerns raised that new Judicial payout guidelines may not be adequately reduced
Using Northern Ireland's Green Book as a reference point would be "the status quo masquerading as reform," says industry group
9 February 2021 | 0
The Alliance for Insurance Reform (AIR) has expressed serious concerns at reports that the Judicial Council is tending towards the adoption of guidelines that would reflect those in the Green Book, Northern Ireland’s personal injuries guidelines.
“Such a development would be unlikely to lead to meaningful reductions in the cost of personal injury claims and hence insurance, unless it came hand-in-hand with wholesale reform of the Irish legal system,” said Peter Boland, director of the alliance. “Otherwise, using the Green Book as a reference point would be the status quo masquerading as reform.”
The group welcomed the postponement of the adoption of new Judicial Personal Injury Guidelines until 20 February. “We welcome any opportunity for serious reflection on the guidelines,” Boland said, “but we call on the Judicial Council, in their deliberations, to have regard to the common good in reducing general damages for fully recovered minor injuries by at least 80% to reflect international norms and norms already established by the Court of Appeal.”
Eoin McCambridge, managing director of McCambridge’s of Galway and director of the Alliance, also pointed out that what Ireland awards for minor, fully recovered injuries is 4.4 times higher than in England and Wales and further multiples higher than other European jurisdictions.
“An 80% reduction on minor injuries would only bring us down to where England and Wales currently are and would still be nowhere near the equivalent damages in other European countries – and England and Wales are further slashing their damages for minor whiplash injuries later this year,” McCambridge added.
Independent retailers’ group RGDATA, which is a member of AIR, has also raised concerns that the new Judicial Council guidelines may not be lowered far enough, as media reports suggest.
“We will not see the required reduction in shop insurance costs to sustainable levels unless we bring the pay outs for very minor, fully recoverable bumps and bruises right down to EU levels,” said RGDATA director general Tara Buckley.
“Bringing Irish pay outs in line with those in Northern Ireland will not address this issue and will certainly not deliver the sort of reductions in insurance costs that Irish shops desperately need to stay competitive,” Buckley added.