The Judicial Council, a body made up of Judges sitting in the District Court, Circuit Court and High Court, has voted in favour of adopting new guidelines aimed at reducing the level of damages awarded in personal injury claims. The new guidelines will when introduced replace the PIAB Book of Quantum which provides a range of suggested awards for certain types of injuries.
The new guidelines follow a similar structure to the PIAB Book of Quantum insofar as injuries are measured for the most part in terms of being either minor, moderate or severe. However, the new guidelines are far more detailed and cover a wider range of injuries to include psychological damage.
While the range of suggested damages that should be awarded for certain injuries have been reduced, particularly those often described as “whiplash” type injuries the Judicial Council emphasised that when awarding damages for personal injuries such damages must be fair and reasonable to both clamant and defendant and proportionate to the injury sustained.
When implemented, the courts will be obliged to have regard to the new guidelines when making a compensation award. The Minister for Justice has indicated that the guidelines will not apply retrospectively and will only apply to cases that have not been assessed by PIAB. This would suggest that a two-tier system will apply for the interim with those cases which have exited the PIAB process assessed in line with current awards and those which have yet to be assessed by PIAB assessed with reference to the new guidelines.