CIVIL LIABILITY (AMENDMENT) ACT 2017 – POWER OF THE COURTS TO GRANT PERIODIC PAYMENT ORDERS
Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 2017 were commenced on 1 October. Under these parts of the Act, the courts now have the power to make index-linked annual payments known as periodic payments orders (PPOs) in cases of catastrophic injury. PPOs may provide for damages, including the cost of future medical treatment and care, and future loss of earnings. Previously, the courts, in awarding damages, could only make lump sum payments in cases of catastrophic injury and this has long been subject to criticism.
Under the Act, the court has discretion to make a PPO and must consider the best interests of the claimant having regard to the circumstances of the case before making such an order. Alternatively, the parties may agree their own terms and the court has discretion to grant the PPO on such agreed terms.
The court may make an order for a stepped PPO, which involves varying the PPO where the circumstances of the plaintiff change. The circumstances that may form the basis of a stepped payment include the claimant: reaching 18 years of age; entering primary or secondary school; entering third level education; or anticipated changes in the care needs of a claimant, including a requirement that the claimant move into residential care. The court must also be satisfied that the continuity of the payments under the order is reasonably secure before making the PPO, e.g. where the PPO is eligible for payment from the Insurance Compensation Fund or the Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland.
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE PUBLISHES REPORT ON THE FEASIBILITY OF AN INSURANCE CLAIM-BY-CLAIM REGISTER
The Department of Finance has published a report on the feasibility of an insurance claim-by-claim register (the Report), which is the product of a Sub-group of the Cost of Insurance Working Group (the Group). The objective of the Group was to identify and analyse the drivers of the cost of insurance and to recommend short, medium and long-term measures to address the problem of increasing insurance costs.
The Group previously recommended that a national claims information database (National Claims Information Database) be established and the Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Bill 2018 is progressing through the Houses of the Oireachtas. We reported on the Bill in the July edition of the Arthur Cox regulatory update.
The establishment of a claim-by-claim register was previously proposed by the Group as a long-term measure to tackle transparency issues in the insurance industry. However, having now considered the responses received by the Group from its recent consultation, the Group has determined that the establishment of a claim-by-claim register should not be pursued. The Group recommended instead that every effort be made to operationalise the National Claims Information Database and the fraud database as soon as possible.
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This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.