New guidelines in April of this year were published by the Judicial Council in respect of Personal Injury awards. These were adopted by the Judicial Council under Section 7 of the Judicial Council Act 2019. The new guidelines replace the Book of Quantum which set general guidelines for amounts to be awarded or assessed in Personal Injury cases. The Book of Quantum sets out different types of injuries and likely awards that a Court might make depending on the severity of the injuries, while the Trial Judge maintains discretion in each individual case, depending on the facts before the Court. The new guidelines apply to cases where Court proceedings have issued after 24th April 2021.
Though the consequences of these guidelines are varied, High Court, Judge Mr Justice Kevin Cross has stressed that the new guidelines aimed at reducing damages, especially for minor injuries, “do not change the law”. He added that Judges are still required to assess damages that are “fair and reasonable” in individual cases, and if a Judge believes it is necessary to depart from the guidelines to do so, he or she needs give their reasons for doing so.
Judge Cross also noted that there is a “great lacuna” in the High Court’s Personal Injuries list for the rest of this law term to May 20th. The Judge, who manages the Court’s Personal Injuries list and the daily call-over of cases via video conference, told lawyers there were very few cases listed before the court for hearing or settlement up to May 20th.
In Personal Injury cases, where witness evidence is required, in person Court hearings are required. Due to the restrictions and the unsuitability of many of these cases for remote hearings, the lacuna has developed and a backlog will ensue.
However, further to a recent practice direction from the President of the High Court last week, the High Court will resume hearing witness cases next month, which includes the resumption of some in person hearings of Personal Injuries cases, and in line with the gradual re-opening of society. The Court will also continue with remote hearings, where possible, to minimise the footfall in Court Buildings, from a Health and Safety point of view. This is a welcome start to get the system moving again and the backlog cleared.
NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website www.nfg.ie, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.