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Alliance calls on reduced damages for minor injuries

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has called on the Judicial Council to reduce awards for minor personal injuries by 80 per cent.

It has asked the judiciary to “have regard to the common good in their deliberations”, as it prepares new personal injuries guidelines to replace the Book of Quantum.

The Judicial Council is scheduled to adopt and publish new judicial guidelines on damages for personal injuries by July 31 at the latest.

These new guidelines will replace the current Book of Quantum guidelines as to the amounts that may be awarded in personal injury claims.

It is understood that draft guidelines are to be considered at a meeting of the full Judicial Council on February 5.

Peter Boland, director of the Alliance, said: “The single biggest element of the cost of insurance, as determined by the Cost of Insurance Working Group, the Personal Injuries Commission and the Central Bank’s National Claims Information Database, is compensation; and general damages for minor injuries account for the vast majority of compensation payouts.

“What we award for minor, fully recovered injuries in Ireland is 4.4 times higher than in England & Wales and further multiples higher than other European jurisdictions.

“An 80 per cent 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.

“We call on the Judicial Council to have regard to the common good in reducing general damages for fully recovered minor injuries by at least 80 per cent to reflect international norms and norms already established by the Court of Appeal.

“We are not talking about damages for serious injuries here. Where a person is seriously injured due the negligence of someone else, they must be properly compensated and that is what insurance is there for.

“What we are talking about are the bumps, bruises and mild, fully recovered whiplash injuries where treatment ends when the legal action is finished. We reward these injuries at a level unprecedented in Europe and these are the awards that are damaging Irish society.”