Minister rejects claim that rise in awards will drive up insurance costs

Mr Shatter said: “I don’t think there is any research basis for suggesting such increases will have any such effect”

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has rejected claims that increases in the award limits for the District and Circuit courts would have an inflationary effect on personal injury claims

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has rejected claims that increases in the award limits for the District and Circuit courts would have an inflationary effect on personal injury claims

Sat, Jul 13, 2013, 01:00


Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has rejected claims that increases in the award limits for the District and Circuit courts would have an inflationary effect on personal injury claims and result in increased insurance premiums.

He was speaking in the Dáil about a provision in the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which passed second stage yesterday.

The Irish Brokers’ Association and the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, said the increase from €6,384 to €15,000 in the District Court and the rise from €38,092 to €60,000 for personal injury claims and €75,000 for other civil proceedings would have an inflationary effect on awards and result in a knock-on increase in insurance premiums.

Mr Shatter said: “I don’t think there is any research basis for suggesting such increases will have any such effect.”

He said the award limits had not been increased since 1991. They were frozen for 22 years. “Purely on the basis of inflation the claims make no sense,” he said. The award increase in the District Court would still have a lesser value than it had in 1992, he said. And he stressed that in the Circuit Court the award level was limited to €60,000 for personal injury cases because of concerns about a possible inflationary effect on personal injuries claims.

Awards system
He said he wanted an awards system that made sense. Mr Shatter added: “A substantial number of cases are heard in higher courts than are necessary, with substantial additional costs” for those who used the courts.

The Courts and Civil Law Bill he was debating, reforms a number of areas including allowing media attend family law cases in certain circumstances and increasing the number of Supreme Court judges by two as well as increasing the award limits for District and Circuit court civil proceeding cases.

During the debate Mary Mitchell O’Connor (FG) said the criminal courts were housed in state-of-the-art buildings, while Dolphin House in Dublin, housing the “heavily burdened family court” was “an archaic building without the most basic facilities”. Hallways and doorways become places for “sensitive decisions that impact on individuals and their children’s lives are made in corners and staircases”.