Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill 2017: Second Stage

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am very pleased to introduce the Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill in this House and look forward to our discussion on its provisions. The purpose of the Bill is to empower the courts to make awards of damages in cases of catastrophic injury by way of periodic payments orders, PPOs. The Bill will apply in cases involving both State and non-State defendants. It addresses the concerns that have been raised repeatedly by the courts that the absence of such legislation has meant that the best option for a catastrophically injured person in the form of a periodic payments order has not been available.

I acknowledge the work that has been done by the High Court working group on medical negligence and periodic payments in bringing this matter to the fore. Since the publication of the working group's report on this issue, my Department has been working with Departments, State agencies and stakeholders to develop the provisions of the Bill before us. As Senators will be aware, damages for personal injuries are currently paid by way of a lump sum. The damages awarded to compensate for personal injuries are intended to put the injured party in the same position as they would have been in if they had not sustained the wrong for which they are now receiving compensation.

Damages are assessed at a certain point in time and a lump sum is awarded which is intended to compensate for all past and future losses, including the cost of care, medication, aids a person might need and treatment. The lump sum is intended to represent the capital value of future loss. The working group on medical negligence and periodic payments noted in its report:

The "lump sum" approach dictates that there is no recourse for a plaintiff who exhausts his fund by exceeding his [or her] projected [for example] life[time] expectancy... Many catastrophically injured persons have spent their final years... without the means to pay for their care because the damages awarded have proved inadequate... Similarly, a defendant has no recourse if a large lump sum is paid to a plaintiff who succumbs to his [or her] injuries earlier than expected.

This, of course, means that the next of kin in some instances have received unintended multi-million euro amounts.

The principal recommendation made in the working group's report was to address the deficiencies in the lump sum system by giving the courts discretion to impose, with or without the consent of parties, periodic payment orders in catastrophic injury cases. The working group recommended that periodic payment orders should be calculated to meet the cost of permanent and long-term care and treatment and should be index-linked. The principal advantages of introducing periodic payment orders include the fact that inadequate compensation will be avoided as payments will be tied to the actual rather than the expected cost of care and treatment; that inappropriate compensation will be avoided as payments will be linked to actual rather than expected duration of life; and that, in addition, the payment of enormous lump sums will be avoided.

Since the publication of the report of the working group, the courts have made more than 50 interim periodic payment orders. These interim periodic payment orders are subject to review by the courts on relevant returnable dates. However, the courts have indicated that they do not favour settlement of claims by periodic payment order in the absence of legislation. This Bill provides that a court shall have the power to award damages by way of periodic payment orders, where appropriate, having regard to the best interests of the plaintiff and all the circumstances of the case. It contains provisions regarding the security and indexation of periodic payment orders. In addition, the Bill will ensure periodic payment orders will not be subject to income tax and that such payments will not be taken into account in the event of bankruptcy. The introduction of the legislation will have a positive impact on persons with catastrophic injuries who require long-term care and assistance as it will ensure that they will have security with regard to the costs of care in their lifetimes.

Before moving to provide the House with details of the provisions of the Bill, I hope to bring forward a number of Committee Stage amendments relating to the issue of double recovery of health benefits and also in relation to open disclosure provisions which deal with supporting the open disclosure to patients of patient safety incidents. We are working closely with the Department of Health on these matters.

I will outline briefly the provisions of the Bill. Section 1 is a standard provision.

Section 2 is the main provision regarding periodic payment orders and sets out what we need to do to introduce them. Section 51H is an interpretation section for the new Part. Senators should note that catastrophic injury is defined as meaning "a personal injury which is of such severity that it results in a permanent disability requiring the person to receive life-long care and assistance in all activities of daily living or a substantial part thereof". As Senators can imagine, this definition has been the subject of much discussion among stakeholders.

Section 51I is the central provision relating to the power of the court to award damages by way of periodic payments orders. Subsection (1) provides that, where it is awarding damages for personal injuries to a plaintiff who has suffered a catastrophic injury, a court may order that all or part of the damages for future medical treatment, future care of the plaintiff and the provision of assistive technology be paid in periodic payments. Where the parties agree to do so, damages in respect of future loss of earnings may also be paid in periodic payments under the order. Subsection (2) sets out the issues which the court must consider in deciding whether to make a periodic payments order. The court must have regard to the best interests of the plaintiff, the individual circumstances, the nature of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff and the form of award which would best meet the needs of the plaintiff having regard to the preferences of all parties. Subsections (4) and (5) deal with stepped payments. A court may make provision that a periodic payment order may increase or decrease from a specified date to cater for anticipated changes in the plaintiff’s needs. Changes in circumstances which may form the basis of a stepped payment include entry into primary, secondary or third level education, reaching the age of 18 years or changes to the care needs of the person, which could include a transfer to residential care.

Section 51J deals with the vitally important issue of the security of periodic payment orders. The section provides that a court may only make a periodic payment order where it is satisfied that the continuity of payments under it is reasonably secure. The next section provides that a paying party must make an application to the court where it proposes to alter the method of payment of a periodic payment order. I have mentioned that these will be index-linked and the next section deals with the indexation of payments.

Section 51M relates to the assignment, commutation or charging of a right to periodic payments. This section seeks to address the risk that it could undermine the operation of the Bill if the right of commutation were not restricted, as a claimant could be encouraged to agree to commute their periodic payments order into a lump sum payment, even if there were compelling reasons for the claimant to receive periodic payments. The section provides that an application must be made to court for approval if a plaintiff wishes to assign, commute or charge the right to a periodic payment order. Various appeals are allowed.

Section 51O provides that the new Part will apply to proceedings that are brought on or after the commencement of the Part or in respect of which no final decision has been made on the date of such commencement. I will examine carefully the wording of this section between now and Committee Stage to ensure that the new provisions on periodic payment orders can apply to cases where a court has already made an interim order. As stated, approximately 50 of those orders have been made already and we want to ensure, if it needs further amendment to do it, that such amendment is brought forward on Committee Stage.

Section 3 amends section 3 of the Insurance Act 1964. Section 3 of the Insurance Act, as amended, deals with payments from the insurance compensation fund where an insurance company goes into liquidation. Subsection (4) of the section deals with the maximum amounts that may be paid from the fund in the event of a liquidation of an insurance company. It provides that the total amount that may be paid out of the fund in respect of any sum due to a person under a policy shall not exceed 65% of that sum or €825,000, whichever is the less.

Section 3 provides that the limits specified in the Insurance Act 1964 shall not apply where the court has made a periodic payments order. Consequently, where an insurance company becomes insolvent, the full amount due to a person entitled to receive payments under a periodic payment order will be paid from the insurance compensation fund.

There is a number of technical amendments to the Bankruptcy Acts. Section 5 provides an exemption, as I have mentioned, from income tax in respect of payments made to persons under a periodic payments order.

Section 6 relates to costs in personal injury cases.

People have spoken about the Bill for a long time. It is believed and understood that this is a far better way to approach these tragic cases. The Bill will make a difference to the lives of people who have suffered catastrophic injuries by enabling the courts to give them what is in effect much needed financial security that is based more on their needs, including emerging needs, than a projection into the future. The new measures can also support catastrophically injured persons without imposing undue liabilities on insurance companies or other defendants.

I commend the Bill to the House and hope Senators will support it.

I welcome the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality and thank her for her statement on the Bill and comprehensive run-through of its provisions. Fianna Fáil is happy to support the Bill. It is long overdue and we are very happy to see it before the House.

As a practising solicitor, I know that it will have a very real impact on people's lives. It will take away from the battle parents often have to face for many years to obtain adequate compensation for a catastrophically injured child.

The enormous lump sums paid out in the past often placed a huge burden on families who were already dealing with a large burden. It involved their investing and taking care of the money over the lifetime of the injured party, which was often far beyond their ability. The Bill removes that burden from families which, of course, is very welcome.

The provisions on payments falling outside the Bankruptcy Act are very welcome. Some families who received large lump sums fell into financial difficulty in recent years. The measure in this regard is very welcome.

The projected lifespan aspect is very important to consider because, as medical procedures and medications are improving, people's lifespan is extending. Therefore, the provisions for periodic payments will help affected persons and ensure they will be provided for adequately for the rest of their lives. We are very happy, therefore, to support the Bill.

I welcome the Minister and commend her for successfully getting the sexual offences Bill through the other House. It criminalises the use of prostitutes and we all look forward to getting it through the Seanad. The previous justice committee worked very hard on it and I certainly believe it will result in the protection of vulnerable women, something we all want to achieve.

From time to time, we have legislation in the House that we know will have a really meaningful effect on the lives of citizens who find themselves in very difficult and challenging circumstances. We had a grotesque phenomenon called the Celtic tiger in the first decade of this century. Many people who received significant payments as a result of catastrophic injuries would have found themselves in circumstances in which thsee payments were not channelled properly. Deals might have been done for their care that were not in their best interests. What we are seeing is a steadying of the ship that will ensure people's care is protected in the longer term. Periodic payment ensures that if particular cost-punitive treatments not yet available are required in the future to deal with a catastrophic injury, we will be able to address the matter. Thus, we will be able to provide the best possible care in 2027, just as we desire to have the best possible care provided in 2017. That is what we all want to achieve. Nobody ever wants to be in these circumstances, but when they are, we have a responsibility to ensure the proper checks, balances and protective mechanisms are in place to ensure their care is secured into the future. Those who find themselves in these circumstances are equal to citizens who are in a position to go to work and earn a decent living.

The Bill can be described as technical because the courts have been making periodic payments. However, the legislation adds a structure to process. That is what the courts wanted. The structure is extremely important. The Bill might be technical, but it will undoubtedly have a major effect on the lives of citizens. I have no doubt all parties in the House, in addition to my own, will support the Bill as we are here to do the right thing. The Bill represents one of the right things being done. As Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee said, it probably should have been introduced years ago, but many things that should have happened years ago did not. If everything happened when it should have, there would be no need for us. The Bill is good and I hope it will pass speedily through the House.

The Tánaiste is very welcome. Sinn Féin welcomes publication of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill 2017 which, if enacted, will enable the courts to award periodic payment orders, PPOs, to compensate injured victims in cases of catastrophic injury where long-term permanent care is required instead of awarding lump sums in damages, as is the norm in these cases.

The Bill arose from the recommendations of the working group on medical negligence and periodic payments. It was established in February 2010 under the leadership of the then justice of the High Court Mr. John Quirke to examine the system in the courts for the management of claims for damages arising from alleged medical negligence and to identify shortcomings within that system. The group concluded that the system for awarding damages for future pecuniary losses - the lump sum award - was inadequate and inappropriate and should be replaced by periodic payments. An observation I would make on the working group's report concerns the membership of the committee. It included representatives of the various relevant State Departments and the persons with whom the group engaged. There was much discussion with the insurance companies but consultation with the families of those tasked with the care of their loved ones or the persons with catastrophic injuries who still had capacity was sadly lacking. I would like to see this issue being addressed by the Minister. Perhaps there might be an opportunity to address it when the Bill makes its way to Committee Stage. It has been a long-standing issue for many families where there has been a victim of medical negligence which has resulted in catastrophic injury. I note, in particular, the calls made by Ms Karen O'Mahony over a number of years. She ended up having to go to the High Court three times to secure a settlement for her son who had suffered a brain injury owing to medical negligence when in 2001 Cork University Hospital failed to provide proper post-operative care in treating a brain tumour. Following his catastrophic injuries, Eoin O'Mahony was quadriplegic and suffered from locked-in syndrome which required him to receive 24-hour care from a team of professionals. It should not have taken the O'Mahony family 14 years and three trips to the High Court to secure a settlement to guarantee the necessary care and support throughout their son's life. Owing to the lack of PPOs, Ms O'Mahony and her husband were compelled to endure arduous court battles to ensure their son received the care he needed. In the aftermath, they were vocal about their belief this legislation was needed.

While we recognise that legal costs can be incredibly high, it is disappointing that the State Claims Agency and others have seen fit to tarnish the lawyers who advocate for families and individuals who suffer from catastrophic injuries as vultures out to milk the HSE when, in fact, it is the State Claims Agency that fights tooth and nail before inevitably admitting liability and negligence. Families should not be made to feel like pariahs for seeking payment to access the care their loved ones need. It should not come as a surprise when the option of mediation is often turned down.

We have some concerns about the Bill that warrant further scrutiny. I note, in particular, section 51L which deals with the indexation of payments. It will allow for the adjustment of a PPO in line with the cost of living. It is the cost of labour, however, that is the main component of care costs. This may be an issue down the road.

While there are people such as the O'Mahonys who would like PPOs to be introduced, there are others who want things to be over and done with in one go because they cannot face sporadic engagements where the costs of care go up or down. The difficulty with lump sum awards arises when a person exceeds his or her life expectancy. Suddenly, the money to provide care is gone and the State is obliged to fill the gap with varying degrees of success. Very often, persons are compelled to invest the award in order to make it last. The austerity years demonstrated just how difficult that was for persons who needed a guaranteed return to fund their medical care in the long term.

The report of 2010 recommended that the variation of PPOs be permitted where it had been determined that the plaintiff's condition would seriously deteriorate or improve. Given the nature of catastrophic injuries, we recognise that miracle recoveries are rare but, that aside, we do not want to see circumstances in which families are dragged back to court for contested PPO hearings where they are unnecessary.

We will allow the Bill to go further and will be suggesting further amendments on Committee Stage. Ultimately, we want to see a patient-centred approach that has the best interests of the person in need of care at the core of any new legislation.

I welcome the Minister. I also welcome this legislation which will give necessary financial security to those who require life-long care and assistance following a catastrophic injury.

I welcome this legislation which will provide the necessary financial security to those who require life-long care and assistance following catastrophic injury.

The absence of a statutory alternative to lump sum payments has meant that the best option for a tragically injured person in the form of a periodic payment order, PPO, has not been available to date, unlike in the United Kingdom. In my job as a solicitor down the years, I dealt with many UK-based insurance companies that were regularly bemused by how we did not have PPOs. It is welcome that they are now being introduced.

The Bill empowers the courts to make awards of damages in cases of catastrophic injury by way of PPO, thereby providing financial security for the injured person. I have a background in medical negligence cases and, more recently, regular broader personal injuries defence work. That the Bill is meeting the significant need for certainty is welcome.

I hope to see this much needed Bill enacted as early as possible in 2017. However, it contains a number of slight limitations. I shall elaborate on them shortly. In addition to giving the courts power to award damages by way of PPOs, the Bill will set out principles regarding the security of PPOs, provide that they shall be subject to yearly indexation, and amend the Insurance Act 1964, the Bankruptcy Act 1988 and the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. It will also amend the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to provide for formal orders of settlement and costs in personal injury actions involving PPOs. These measures stem from the recommendations of the report of the High Court working group on medical negligence and periodic payments, chaired by Mr. Justice John Quirke. The report was produced following an intensive policy analysis and consultation process involving various Departments, including the Departments of Finance and Health. Representatives of the insurance sector and the Injuries Board were consulted.

The Tánaiste has gone through the Bill's provisions. Section 51H is crucial, in that it defines "catastrophic injury" as meaning "a personal injury which is of such severity that it results in a permanent disability requiring the person to receive life-long care and assistance in all activities of daily living or a substantial part thereof". The section also provides a definition of "activities of daily life" as including dressing, eating, walking, washing and bathing. It is clear that the persons at whom this legislation is aimed are vulnerable and do not need to have the financial worries that often go with such injuries. Every Senator has heard of cases in which lump sums were paid to individuals who might not necessarily have the best ability to balance their books and had run out of money. Such cases can be tragic. As such, the Bill's measures are welcome.

In deciding whether to make a PPO, the court must have regard to the best interests of the plaintiff and take account of the circumstances of the individual case, including the nature of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff and the form of award that would best meet his or her needs, having regard to the preferences of all parties. A court may order that a PPO will increase or decrease from a specified date by a specified amount - a stepped payment, as such - to cater for anticipated changes in the plaintiff's needs, for example, entry into primary, secondary or third level education, reaching the age of 18 years or changes to the care needed, including transfer to residential care.

The Bill only applies to catastrophically injured people. Furthermore, a periodic settlement can be awarded unilaterally by the court for the costs of future care, but it can only be awarded for the loss of future earnings if there is agreement between the parties. This is a limitation in the Bill and we should strive to increase the provision. As a result of this limitation, a significant number of patients will still be paid by lump sum. If the injured party lives for a long time with a permanent disability, it is almost inevitable that the award will run out, consequently leaving the injured party in a vulnerable position. I would be in favour of a level playing field. An injured plaintiff should be able to choose between a periodic payment and a lump sum in all large cases involving substantial special damages. Perhaps that might not be possible in this Bill, but we should strive towards it. The Helmot case in Guernsey is an example. Cases of this type involve a sizable and permanent loss of earnings, as well as a lack of support for dependants. Surely such cases ought to have the option of a fully periodic award that can provide for people's long-term needs without the threat of lump sums running out.

The current proposals may be too rigid and we could work towards improving certain points in the coming years. There is no logic in allowing future care costs while permitting a defendant to veto a PPO in respect of lost earnings. Why would loss of earnings not be routinely compensated by periodic payments? We are familiar with old age pensions, permanent health insurance benefits and disability pensions, all of which are paid periodically. The objective is to strike a balance of fairness. We must also be wary, in that the State Claims Agency and insurance companies will want to restrict the use of periodic payments as much as possible. The Bill does that, but, as legislators, we must take a more balanced view and ensure the consumer does not bear the brunt of this legislation.

I welcome the Bill and commend the Tánaiste and her officials for their work in that regard.

I welcome the Tánaiste and echo Senator Martin Conway's welcome of the passage through the Dáil of the sex offences Bill which I look forward to being before the Seanad next week. I hope the Bill's reform of prostitution law will be brought into effect swiftly, as per the justice committee's recommendation. I commend the Tánaiste in that regard.

On behalf of the Labour Party group, I welcome the Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill 2017. It has received a general welcome as a sensible and long-overdue measure that needed to be introduced in the interests of individuals who have suffered catastrophic personal injury. As the Tánaiste and others acknowledged, there is real human tragedy behind the Bill's purpose. Any of us who has practised law will have encountered cases involving horrific injuries from time to time. They are reported on in the courts occasionally.

It is good to finally see the Bill. It is more than six years since the final report of the working group was published in October 2010. At the time, it was anticipated that this legislation would be introduced swiftly. Soon after the report's publication, parties to personal injury cases began to negotiate informal interim settlements involving periodic payments. The Tánaiste has acknowledged that more than 50 interim PPOs had been negotiated and made since 2010. However, the delay in introducing this legislation has caused serious problems. I am grateful to the Oireachtas Library and Research Service for documenting for us some of the impacts that the delay has had. We saw the creation of a special personal injuries list in the Dublin High Court following the publication of the working group report in anticipation of legislation being swiftly passed that would provide a structure for PPOs. However, six years passed. Last year the President of the High Court, Mr. Justice Peter Kelly, stated it was shameful that legislation had not yet been introduced to provide for a system of PPOs in a case involving a 13 year old boy suffering from cerebral palsy due to medical negligence during his birth. In 2016 the court finally approved an €8 million lump sum payment following a number of adjournments to see if periodic payments could be made.

The delay in the legislation's passage has had an impact.

It is very good to see it finally, but the delay does need to be emphasised. As we have said, it is clearly in the interests of those suffering catastrophic injury that this would be available to them. It has been available in the United Kingdom for many years already. The Minister has said that the purpose of the Bill is to secure the financial future of those who have suffered catastrophic personal injury. Clearly the idea behind the provisions is to take account of changing needs over time and to guard against what we have seen before with lump sum payments where people have had, for example, poor investment advice and have found then that the money provided for in the lump sum simply was not adequate to meet future needs. Others have rehearsed the disadvantages of the lump sum payments. I will not go back over them. They are set out in the working group's report. I think we are all convinced of the need to allow for these payments to be made. For that reason, we all very much welcome the Bill.

I note Senator Catherine Noone's comments about the definition of catastrophic injury and was very interested to look at that definition. The Senator is right to say this is something that deserves very careful consideration. I know that the Minister has said that she and her officials have already given the definition a great deal of attention and it is difficult to achieve a satisfactory definition, but clearly this sets the definition of catastrophic injury at a very high bar - "a personal injury which is of such severity that it results in a permanent disability to the person requiring the person to receive life-long care and assistance". There may well, therefore, be others who would suffer injuries which we would describe in lay terms as catastrophic but which will not reach that high bar of necessitating life-long care. Perhaps in future legislation, I wonder if we can look at some way of achieving more flexibility in payment orders in those sorts of cases, while acknowledging that clearly there are quite a number of cases, for example, cerebral palsy arising from negligence at birth, where it is clear that they will fit the definition of catastrophic injury provided for in the Bill.

Another issue that Senator Catherine Noone raised that I thought was interesting was about the loss of earnings. This particular provision requires written consent of parties. I note that is in line with the recommendation of the working group that there would be a consent requirement built in regarding compensation for future loss of earnings. However, was consideration was given to leaving it out? Why was that particular recommendation taken on board?

Given the long delay that we have had already, will the Minister say when the Bill will be commenced once it is passed? Is there any particular reason it will require a commencement order rather than coming into force on the day it is passed? I note that the Minister has said amendments are being considered in relation to section 51O, which is to be inserted by section 2 and which will provide for the issue of "personal injuries actions relating to catastrophic injuries" and the timing of the application of the Bill. The new section 51O clearly states:

This Part applies to personal injuries actions relating to catastrophic injuries—

(a) that are brought on or after the commencement of section 2 of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 2017, or

(b) in respect of which no final decision has been made on the date of such commencement.

The Minister has said she is going to look at amending this section to cover the situation where courts have already made an interim award in anticipation of this legislation coming in. That is a good idea as there has been much anticipation that this legislation would come in and indeed a lot of court proceedings taken and people having expectations on that basis. That is appropriate.

The Minister also said that she will be bringing forward Committee Stage amendments on double recovery of health benefits. I note that this is also directly related to one of the working group recommendations. I see that point, but the Minister has said there will also be amendments on open disclosure on patient safety. Will she say if that is unrelated to the issue of periodic payment orders? I do not see reference to it in the working group recommendations. Is it to do with these periodic payments? Will it have any bearing on them?

Overall, apart from raising a few small queries, like others, I very much welcome this important Bill and acknowledge the human suffering that has given rise to the need for it.

I thank the Senators for their responses to the Bill and the very constructive approach they have taken. I think everyone has recognised the importance of this legislation and the difference that it will make in people's lives. I certainly acknowledge, as a number of Senators, including Senator Paul Gavan, have pointed out and spoken about the huge stress that has been and is caused for families because of uncertainty surrounding the care of their children or their relatives who have suffered catastrophic injuries. As this has been recommended, as Senator Ivana Bacik said, for quite a long time, I am very pleased that we have it here and I hope that we can work it through the different stages fairly quickly.

I will be tabling a number of amendments, but obviously if there are amendments being proposed that I am in a position to accept, I will of course do so.

There were a number of specific points made on the indexation of periodic payments. Senator Paul Gavan brought up that issue. There were various recommendations on how to deal with it. An interdepartmental working group to examine the technical aspects of periodic payment orders considered it further. It concluded the most appropriate indexation measure would be the Irish harmonised index of consumer prices, HICP, which measures changes in consumer price inflation across the eurozone and aims to be representative of developments in the prices of all goods and services available for purchase. The interdepartmental group recommended that the effectiveness of that index should be reviewed after five years of operation. That was to deal with the point that the Senator made about the average hourly rate of pay, for example, for certain persons including nurses, physiotherapists or various people, the average cost of medical procedures for the treatment of persons injured and the estimated average cost for medical aids and appliances. That is the best recommendation we have in how to deal with this over a long period and with a review built in at the final stage.

Senators Catherine Noone and Martin Conway both welcomed the Bill. Senator Catherine Noone made a number of points about the scope of the legislation and the boundaries. Undoubtedly there will be some cases that will fall outside that definition. Where there are ongoing costs that is quite a difficult issue to decide on. The courts will be looking at that definition and determining precisely who falls within it. We can have a look at that issue on Committee Stage, but I make the point - Senator Ivana Bacik referenced it - that a lot of work, thought and consultation has gone into it. It is extremely difficult when one is bringing forward legislation that has to deal with a definition such as this. I would not be optimistic about changing it because we have done so much consultation on it, but we might be able to examine some pathways forward or issues that need to be addressed in relation to the points made by Senator Catherine Noone.

The Bill is short but the provisions are quite complex. Before introducing it we had to consider very carefully a number of issues: obviously the scope of the legislation, which is the precise point Senators have raised; the powers that we would grant to the courts in respect of periodic payments; the security of periodic payments; the indexation, a point that was also raised here; the treatment in bankruptcy; and the treatment of periodic payments for income tax purposes. The point was also made that this is about the consumers. This is about ensuring dealing more effectively through the court processes with people who have been catastrophically injured is at the centre of this legislation.

Again, I thank the Senators. Everybody has supported the Bill. There may be some technical points to look at on Committee Stage, but I think everyone agrees that it is important legislation to ensure people will receive the care and assistance they need over the course of a lifetime.

Question put and agreed to.

When it is proposed to take Committee Stage?

On Tuesday, 14 February.

Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 14 February 2017.
Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 3 p.m.