I note the attached press release of the Alliance for Insurance Reform to which the Deputy refers. I also welcome the recent statement of the Chief Justice on the Opening of the New Legal Year and his reference to consistency and proper calibration of injury awards which was made in the context of recently published Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) Report. This Report has made a number of important recommendations which I believe will improve the personal injury resolution framework in Ireland. This area of work is of particular importance to tackling the broader cost of insurance issue. The implementation of these PIC recommendations – along with those from the first PIC Report - will I believe contribute to a better functioning personal injury litigation system, and it is hoped that they will ultimately contribute to making insurance more affordable for the whole of society.
The Alliance for Insurance Reform has played an active role in highlighting the issue of the cost of insurance, particularly for businesses and voluntary organisations. My colleague Minister D’Arcy has formally met with the Alliance on a number of occasions, most recently on September 18th, and issues related to the Alliance’s “10 asks” were discussed in some level of detail. At this meeting it was pointed out that many of these “10 asks” were considered by the Cost of Insurance Working Group in the course of producing its two reports, namely the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance and the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance. Indeed, a number of these measures are in the process of being implemented, such as amending section 8 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 and putting in place guidelines for the reporting of suspected personal injury fraud by insurers to the Gardaí. In respect of other issues put forward by the Alliance, such as changing the approach to calculating the Book of Quantum, the recommendations of the PIC that this country follows the example of judicial intervention which has occurred in Northern Ireland and in the UK, namely the introduction of Judicial Guidelines for judges, is an important recognition of the role of the Judiciary in this area. On the issue of a legislative capping of awards, as Minister D’Arcy has clearly indicated previously, there are constitutional issues which need to be first considered, thus explaining why the Working Group has referred that matter to the Law Reform Commission for examination.
Finally, I think it is important that the focus of the Cost of Insurance Working Group continues to be on implementing the recommendations of its two Reports. As I have stated previously, I believe that the cumulative effects of the implementation of all the recommendations should include increased stability in the pricing of insurance for consumers and businesses and improved availability of insurance generally.