21st April 2023

The March show kicked off highlighting the challenge against the Personal Injury Guidelines which opened in the Supreme Court earlier in the week and concluded with a reserve decision. Seamus Gunn outlined the background to the case and the Personal Injury claim by one Bridget Delaney of Dungarvan who had a trip and fall on a public footpath in April 2019 when she suffered a fracture to her right ankle. The matter was pursued through PIAB, with an award of € 3,000.00 for General Damages for the Injury sustained. He said that preceding the Personal Injury Guidelines, this type of injury would have attracted Damages of € 18,000.00 – € 20,000.00 or thereabouts. He explained that the result of the current challenge would have serious consequences for victims of accidents who are pursuing the matter through PIAB and the Courts, and also the Insurance industry while awards since the introduction of the Guidelines have been cut in some incidences by 40%, he said that the gains were not being passed on by way of premium reductions. He said that the matter came before the High Court in 2022 when Justice Meenan rejected Ms. Delaney’s claim that PIAB had acted in breach of fair procedures and that her assessment should not have been conducted under new guidelines. She also sought Declarations that they were in breach of her rights to Natural and Constitutional Justice and that the Judicial Council acted outside its powers in adopting the Guidelines. All arguments were rejected in the High Court and as there was a serious public interest point arising, the Appeal went straight to the Supreme Court. It was heard before a 7 Judge Court. Our contributor thought that the main pillar of the argument for the Appellant was that there was an overlap in relation to the Separation of powers in that the Judiciary who sat on the Judicial Council of which there was 146 to adopt the guidelines recommended by the committee which was set up as a result of the Judicial Council Act 2019, were now being requested to Adjudicate upon its Constitutionality. He said that he was somewhat uneasy about the manner in which the guidelines were introduced in the first place and that they were set by Judges who ultimately had to make decisions in relation to their implementation. The reserve decision is awaited with interest. 

What followed in the Q&A touched on many wide and varied topics from Consumer Rights, the office of the DPP, Property Acquisitions and the Courts.