The new guidelines, which will be welcomed by insurance companies, are likely to greatly reduce the amount of compensation awarded to those who have suffered injuries in road traffic and work accidents through no fault of their own. It remains to be seen if insurance companies will reduce their premiums as a result.
A number of High Court judges have expressed the fear that awards will now, in some cases, fall significantly short of what might be viewed as fair and reasonable. It is to be hoped that the courts will retain their independence and discretion when awarding general damages to ensure that people who have suffered injury as a result of the negligence of others - in, for example, a road traffic accident caused by a dangerous driver or because of an employer's failure to implement proper safety procedures - will receive compensation that properly reflects the severity of their injuries.
Judicial Council members approved the guidelines by a majority vote - 83 in favour, 63 against - at a meeting today.
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, will bring proposals to Cabinet on 9 March on how to implement the guidelines which will take effect when the Minister commences section 99 of the Judicial Council Act 2019.
The guidelines will replace the Book of Quantum which set general guidelines for the assessment of awards in personal injury claims.
The new guidelines are set out in the document below.