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Periodic Payments Order Update

By: Eamon Harrington | Posted on: 04 Jun 2015

Government publishes heads of bill to provide for Periodic Payment Orders

The new Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill, published on 27 May 2105,  will allow Courts to award index-linked annual payments instead of a lump sum award to cover future care of catastrophically injured persons.

The Government has published the heads and general scheme of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill. The bill will introduce a new model of Periodic Payment Order whereby a Court could decide that catastrophically injured people can receive the cost of future care in the form of index-linked annual payments instead of a lump sum award which is what people must rely on under the present system.

The new measures stem from the recommendations of the High Court’s Working Group on Medical Negligence and Periodic Payments.

The General Scheme of the Civil Liability Amendment Bill 2015 proposes to insert a new Part in the Civil Liability Act 1961 empowering the Courts to make orders for periodic payments to plaintiffs in cases involving catastrophic injury. It proposes, in summary, that:

 

  • The Court would have the possibility to make periodic payment orders for catastrophically injured plaintiffs who require life long care and attention;
  • The decision to make a periodic payment order would be at the Court’s discretion, having consulted the plaintiff and defendant (i.e. the State, an insurance company or similar) and having considered the needs of the claimant;
  • Payments would be indexed to the Irish Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices and reviewed at 5-yearly intervals;
  • The PPOs could be changed at specified times to accommodate changes in the plaintiff’s circumstances (such as the move into full-time education);
  • The existing limits in the Insurance Compensation Fund would not apply in cases of PPOs. Consequently, where an insurance company became insolvent, the full amount due to a PPO plaintiff would be paid in full from the Insurance Compensation Fund;
  • The Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 would be amended to enable the Personal Injuries Assessment Board to agree awards, where such might arise, in the form of periodic payments subject to the provisions of the proposed PPO legislation.

 

It is proposed that the provisions would apply to public and private defendants (i.e. to State and to insurance companies or similar).

The General Scheme follows on the recommendations of the report of the High Court Working Group on Medical Negligence and Periodic Payments (2011), chaired by Justice John Quirke. The Department of Justice and Equality undertook an intensive policy analysis and consultation process with the Department of Finance, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Health, the Office of the Attorney General and the State Claims Agency in the development of these legislative proposals. Representatives of the insurance sector and of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board were also consulted.

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