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.
20th April 2022
The show kicked off this morning by way of a telephone link. The challenge which commenced in the High Court midweek against the Judicial Council’s adoption of the Personal Injury guidelines was highlighted as having potentially serious implications for the public and the insurance industry. Our contributor Seamus Gunn explained with the introduction of PIAB in 2003, the emphasis was on trying to bring some certainty to awards and to reduce legal fees in respect of the pursuit of such claims. He said that the case in point was being brought by a lady in Dungarvan as a result of a fractured bone in her ankle and that while the accident occurred prior to March 2021, it was not assessed until the new guidelines were in place. He explained that under the old system she could have expected General Damages of € 18,000.00 – € 25,000.00 in respect of such an injury, but that the award came in at € 3,000.00 and was obviously going to be challenged. He said that it would be interesting to see how this was going to play out as the very purpose for which the Injuries Board was set up would now be frustrated as all such claims would likely go down the Judicial route, therefore adding significantly to legal costs as it was highly unlikely that such awards would be accepted. He said that PIAB and the book of quantum had been working adequately and that 70 – 80% of claims were being dealt with at this level. A lot of interested parties will be awaiting the outcome of this case.
The collapsing of the 2020 Health Act was discussed by our contributor Seamus Gunn, who explained that the purpose of the legislation was for the preservation and protection of the public health and to allow the Minister for Health to introduce appropriate measures to curtail the spread of Covid 19. He said that it had already been extended in 2021 and he thought that it beggared belief that it was not extended for a further period in light of the escalating Covid figures in recent weeks. He referenced Shanghai with a population of 26 million at 50% lockdown, with a minute number of symptomatic cases which were non comparable to the figures in the island of Ireland, averaging at 12,000 per day. He said that the WHO spokesperson Dr. Mike Ryan stated that Covid 19 remains an acute global emergency. He said that while it may not be envisaged that the emergency powers would be needed and at least this was the aspiration, it was best to have the legislation in place. Greg Hughes was of the opinion that the public may not buy into any further restrictions. Seamus Gunn said that this could be the difficulty in trying to reintroduce such measures with the change in sentiment.
The Q&A that followed ranged from the Succession Act to the tricky subject of Separation and can be listened to online.