Claims News

High Court Compensation Awards Rise by 34% in 2014

Posted on: September 23rd, 2015

The motor insurance industry has blamed over-generous judges for a 34 percent rise in High Court compensation awards over the past year.

The increase in High Court compensation awards was highlighted by by Davy Stockbrokers analyst Emer Lang, who used information gathered from the Courts Service annual report to show that a total of €155 million was awarded over 509 personal injuries claims in 2014.

Ms Lang compared the average claim value of €304,000 in 2014 to that of the previous year (€227,000) to arrive at her figure of 34%. During the same period, the average value of assessments conducted by the Injuries Board has remained steady at €22,600.

Experts from the motor insurance industry were shocked when they were told of the increase. AA Ireland’s Conor Faughnan said there was a need for training for judges to help them understand that High Court compensation awards are paid for by the country´s two million drivers.

Some of the blame for the increase in High Court compensation awards has been attributed to changes made under the Courts and Civil Law Act 2013, in which cases expected to settle for in excess of €60,000 are heard in the High Court.

Prior to the increase to €60,000, the lower limit for High Court compensation awards was €38,092, and Dorothea Dowling – founding chairperson of the Injuries Board, and the chair of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board – believes that plaintiffs are shunning Injuries Board assessments for more money at the High Court.

“The Department of Justice was forewarned well in advance,” Ms Dowling told the Independent. “This is what happens when you increase the limits of the lower courts – it sends out the message that €38,000 is small money.”

Ms Dowling does not share the same opinion as Mr Justice Bernard Barton, who in July this year criticised the government for not updating the injury compensation values published in the Book of Quantum – the publication on which the Injuries Board bases its assessments – since 2004.

In McGarry v McGarry Judge Barton commented “it is unquestionably in the interests of the proper administration of justice that the Book be reviewed and be kept updated to properly reflect [High Court compensation awards]”.

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