Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Questions (194)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

194. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if consideration has been given to making it obligatory for plaintiffs in personal injury cases in the first instance to engage with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board prior to engaging in litigation; if consideration has been given to the significant financial and administrative burden on small and medium enterprises as a result of the increased number of personal injury claims; if consideration has been given to publishing anonymised amounts of all awards paid out by enterprises in personal injury cases; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40602/18]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

Under the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003, all personal injury claims, with certain exceptions, such as medical negligence cases, must be submitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) unless they are settled by the parties involved at an early stage. The most recent figures (2017) published by PIAB do not show an increase in personal injuries claims going through PIAB. The full number of personal injuries claims in Ireland is not known, although PIAB publishes statistics which show aggregate information on claims it handles.

The Cost of Insurance Working Group, chaired by Minister D’Arcy, considered both the cost of claims and the personal injuries claims environment as part of their examination of the Employer Liability and Public Liability insurance sectors. This work culminated in the publication, on January 25th 2018, of the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance.

The Report makes 15 recommendations with 29 associated actions to be carried out, detailed in an Action Plan contained in the Report with agreed timelines for implementation.

The recommendations, covering three main themes, include actions to:

- Review the level of damages in personal injury cases: which includes a request that the Law Reform Commission undertake a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries;

- Improve the personal injuries litigation framework: through a number of measures, including:

- ensuring potential defendants are notified in sufficient time that an incident has occurred in relation to which a claim is going to be made against their policy;

- tackling fraudulent or exaggerated claims; and

- ensuring suitable training and information supports are available to the Judiciary to assist in the fair and consistent assessment and awarding of damages in personal injury cases, and

- Increase Transparency: which includes actions to enhance levels of transparency and improve data sharing and collection processes.

All 29 actions are scheduled to be implemented before the end of 2019, with 26 due for completion this year. The sixth Quarterly Progress Update on implementation was published in August and shows that in respect of the actions under this Report due for completion in the first half of the year, 14 of the 15 actions have been completed with the remaining one partially delayed.

The Working Group will continue to focus on implementing the recommendations of the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance in parallel with implementing those from the 2017 Motor Report. It is hoped that the cumulative effects of the completion of the two Reports’ recommendations, together with the implementation of the recommendations from the two reports of the Personal Injuries Commission, will include increased stability in the pricing of insurance for businesses as well as an improved personal injuries claims environment.

The importance of increasing transparency was identified as one of the three main themes of the recommendations of the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance. In particular, the Deputy may wish to note the Working Group’s recommendations for the Courts Service to publish the results of personal injury cases in a more granular fashion, to request the Central Statistics Office to consider the feasibility of collecting price information on the cost of insurance to business and for the Central Bank to examine the feasibility of adding employer liability and public liability insurance data to the National Claims Information Database.