New Personal Injuries Guidelines Commence

A new era in Personal Injuries Litigation has begun with the commencement of Sections 98 and 99 of the Judicial Council Act 2019.

The much publicised Personal Injuries Guidelines commenced on the 24th of April 2021 by Minster for Justice, Helen McEntee. In this article, Barry Kelleher, Litigation Solicitor, Comyn Kelleher Tobin discusses the potential impact as the new guidelines commence.

What matters have been affected?

Any matters where proceedings had not issued before the 24th of April or had not been assessed by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) prior to the 24th of April will now be assessed by the courts in line with the new Personal Injury Guidelines. For more information on the Personal Injuries Guidelines themselves, please see our previous article here.

Any matters that remain under assessment with PIAB or which had not yet issued will no longer be assessed under the Book of Quantum and will be valued in accordance with the new Judicial Guidelines.

What has changed?

Under the legislation “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.”

The courts therefore must refer to the new guidelines when making an award. The court is entitled to depart from the guidelines, but it must provide reasons for doing so. The Personal Injury Guidelines can be viewed here.

An example of the changes brought in by the guidelines can be seen in a comparison of awards for whiplash type injuries. Claimants can now expect damages in the region of €500 and €12,000 which would previously have been valued at between €15,700 and €19,400.

The commencement of the sections means that for a period, the courts will have to review differing guidelines on the value of damages depending on the date proceedings were issued.

A unique situation may arise where two passengers in the same vehicle in a road traffic accident may have their cases assessed under different parameters depending on when proceedings issued.

What is the future for Plaintiffs and Defendants?

In the short term, there may be a muddying of the waters between both the Book of Quantum and the new Personal Injuries Guidelines. While not strictly applicable, defendants will likely seek to rely upon the new Guidelines for all matters and attempt to negotiate on that basis. Plaintiff lawyers will refer to the Book of Quantum.

In the medium to long term, all matters will be assessed in conjunction with the Personal Injuries Guidelines.

For all stakeholders the date of the 24th of April should be at the forefront of their minds when reviewing cases in the future as it will likely have a significant bearing on the value of damages.

This article is written by Barry Kelleher, Litigation Solicitor, Comyn Kelleher Tobin.