I move amendment No. 1:
In page 6, line 31, to delete “or in relation to”.
It might help if I give an explanation. It is a simple amendment. I will only take a few moments and then give Members of the Opposition an opportunity to speak. It is a very simple four-word amendment.
On Committee Stage I indicated that the Department was considering a technical drafting amendment to the new section 16A, which is being inserted into the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act 2019 by section 8 of this Bill, and that I might return with such an amendment on Report Stage. This is a minor, non-substantial amendment intended to align the text of the new section 16A with the original wording of section 16(10) of the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act. As the Deputies may recall, the purpose of this provision, which is already in force under section 16(10) of the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act, is to place mutual obligations on the insurer and the policyholders to disclose reports from experts relevant to the essence of any claim. The Bill before the House clarifies that this obligation in the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act does not infringe on the established principle of professional legal privilege and also specifies the types of reports to be shared.
Following the drafting process, the Department became aware of a non-substantial issue regarding the definition of the word "claim" for the purposes of section 16A. Section 8 of this Bill defines a claim as "a claim made under or in relation to a contract of insurance". This wording is not consistent with the original drafting of section 16(10) of the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act, which just refers to claims made under a contract of insurance. In this regard, the purpose of this amendment is to delete the words "or in relation to" so that the definition of a claim for the purpose of section 16A is simply a claim made under a contract of insurance and remains consistent with the current Act. In doing so, this should help to avoid unintended interpretation of the text and ensure legal certainty regarding the provision in the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act. It is clearly in everybody's interest to ensure clarity and legal consistency in these matters. I do not expect that Members will have an issue with what is a minor technical amendment.
To summarise, the original Bill brought forward by Deputy Doherty some time ago is the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act. This Bill is amending that Act. I flagged on Committee Stage that an amendment might be needed because there was an inconsistency with the definition of a word in the Act. We are proposing to delete the words "or in relation to" to make this Bill consistent with the wording of the Act which Deputy Doherty brought through the Oireachtas some time ago. It is a technical wording issue to ensure we are making this legislation and its wording consistent with the original legislation, and nothing further than that. It seeks to remove any potential ambiguity due to two slightly different definitions of the same thing. We want to ensure this legislation is consistent in its wording with the original legislation which it is amending. Members will accept that it is just a technical amendment. I hope everybody will agree on that and approve the amendment.