Alliance welcomes analysis of general damages
Warns that minor reductions will only compound the current crisis

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed the publication by ISME of a ‘Fair Book of Quantum‘ which explores what general damages might look like following the review currently being carried out by the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee (PIGC) of the Judicial Council.

Peter Boland, Director of the Alliance said “We welcome this publication by ISME as a way of prompting reasoned debate on this critical issue.  Insurance premiums in Ireland are too high. They are costing jobs, closing SMEs, damaging charities, sport and cultural organisations and community groups; they are shrinking Irish society.

“According to the Central Bank, the cost of claims accounted for 75% of motor insurance premiums over the last 10 years. So clearly any initiative to reduce insurance premiums must address the cost of claims among other things. The primary element of claims is compensation payments and according to the landmark reports of the Personal Injuries Commission, these are 4.4 times higher than in England and Wales for the minor soft-tissue injuries that account for over 80% of personal injury claims in Ireland.

“As it stands, not only do general damages for minor injuries act as a punishment for defendants in negligence cases but they reward being injured. As they currently stand, they bring the entire system of compensation for negligence cases into disrepute and need to be re-balanced in a way that is fair, just, reasonable and proportionate as outlined by Court of Appeal judgements and the principles established by the higher courts in recent years.

“We have a serious concern that the current review process will merely implement small-scale reductions and give the impression that the issue has been addressed whereas nothing short of a very substantial reductions in the rewards for minor injuries is necessary in order to address this issue.

“Finally, it should be noted that the Alliance’s issue is with general damages for minor injuries. We have no issue whatsoever with special damages that compensate for loss of earnings or medical costs. The specific reform we have asked political parties to endorse in the general election campaign is:

  1. Reduce unfair general damages to reflect international norms and the principles already established by the higher courts – including that ‘minor injuries attract modest damages’

The other three reforms we urgently need are:

  1. Review and re-balance the ‘common duty of care’ to require occupiers to take a duty of care that is reasonable, practical and proportionate
  1. Support a fully-resourced Garda Insurance Fraud Unit
  1. Insist on insurers committing to a schedule of forecast reductions for planned reforms”