I will begin with a few notes on public health arrangements. The proceedings of our Oireachtas committees will be conducted without the requirement for social distancing, with normal capacity in the committee rooms restored. However, committees are encouraged to take a gradual approach to this change. Members and witnesses have the opportunity to attend meetings in the relevant committee room or online via Microsoft Teams. All those attending in the committee room and environs should continue to wear masks, preferably of medical grade, over the mouth and nose. They should continue to sanitise and wash their hands properly and often and to avail of sanitisers outside and inside the committee rooms, be respectful of other people's physical space and practise good respiratory etiquette. If they have any Covid symptoms, no matter how mild, they should not attend the meeting. Members and all in attendance are asked to exercise personal responsibility in protecting themselves and others from the risk of contracting Covid-19. Members, as they are aware, participating remotely must do so from within the Leinster House complex.. No apologies have been received.
Today we will discuss the general scheme of the personal injuries resolution board Bill 2022, which was recently referred to the committee for pre-legislative scrutiny by the Minister of State with responsibility for trade promotion, digital and company regulation, Deputy Robert Troy. The Bill aims to amend the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Acts 2003 to 2019 to increase the number of personal injury claims settled through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, PIAB, and to avoid the expense and time associated with litigation. Due to the proposed expansion of the board's new remit and statutory functions to be conferred on it to resolve personal injury claims, the general scheme also provides for changing the name to the personal injuries resolution board. Subject to the views of members I anticipate the committee may need to consult more interested parties on this matter ahead of preparing a report on the matter. I am pleased we are able to consider the matter today and I welcome officials from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. I welcome Mr. John Newham, assistant secretary in the commerce, competition and consumer division, Mr. John Maher, principal officer in the company law enforcement and personal injuries policy unit and Ms Anne Barrett, assistant principal officer in the company law enforcement and personal injuries policy unit.
Before we start, I want to explain some limitations to parliamentary privilege and the practice of the Houses in respect of reference witnesses may make to other persons in their evidence. The evidence of witnesses physically present or who give evidence from within the parliamentary precincts is protected pursuant to both the Constitution and statute by absolute privilege. Witnesses are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of a person or entity. Therefore, if witnesses' statements are potentially defamatory in respect of an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative they comply with any such direction I may give.
The opening statement of the Department has been circulated to all members. To commence our consideration of this matter, I invite Mr. John Newham to make his opening remarks.