Judicial Council decision on Personal Injury Guidelines expected shortly.

On the 5th of February, the Judicial Council met by video conference to consider the proposals made by the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee. It has been reported that the Judicial Council has deferred deciding on the proposals to allow them time to further consider the proposed new guidelines.

The Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee, chaired by High Court President Ms Justice Irvine, submitted its proposals to the Board of the Judicial Council in late 2020. While the contents of the recommendations are not yet public, they are understood to involve a lowering of general damages awards for all but the most serious of injuries.

The Government has made insurance reform one of its priorities and the Department of Finance published its “Action Plan for Insurance Reform” on the 8th of December 2020. The Action Plan provides a proposed commencement date of the 31st of July 2021 for Sections 98 and 99 of the Judicial Council Act 2019. These will provide that:

(a) the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) will no longer be responsible for preparing a Book of Quantum, and

(b) the court shall, in assessing damages in a personal injuries action, have regard to the Personal Injuries Guidelines and, where it departs from those Guidelines, state the reasons for such departure in giving its decision.

At present it is unknown, whether the Personal Injuries Guidelines will have retrospective effect, i.e., have a bearing on proceedings that have already commenced. It is expected however, that any changes to awards under the Personal Injuries Guidelines, will not affect proceedings already before the courts.

The Judicial Council is due to meet again on the 20th of February where a decision is expected on the implementation of the Personal Injuries Guidelines.