I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 66 together.
The special working group on a personal injuries tribunal, chaired by Mr. Dan McAuley, published its first report in May 1997. In that report the special working group set out two alternative structures for a mediation board for occupational injury claims – the first to operate within the courts system, and second, an alternative mediation structure to be established, on a greenfield basis, outside the ambit of the courts system and operating initially on a two-year pilot basis.
A majority of the working group had reservations about the cost effectiveness of a greenfield mediation board and recommended a mediation system to be established within the courts system, having regard to assurances given to it about the rapid pace and scale of the on-going reform of court procedures and elimination of delays.
In pursuing the special working group's recommendation, our Department has been advised that the question of establishing a claims mediation process within the courts would be a matter to be pursued with the new Courts Services Board, when established.
The special working group has completed its research into personal injury compensation systems in operation in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, in the areas of occupational injuries and motor accident injuries.
The special working group's consideration of the results of this research and its relevance to the possible improvement of the systems for delivering personal injury compensation in Ireland will, of necessity, involve a re-appraisal of the recommendations in its first report for claims mediation system.