This Private Member's Bill was brought to the Seanad by Senator Lawlor and his co-sponsors on 6 March, 2019 and has passed the second stage.
The aim of the Bill is to provide "for the imposition of a cap on the level of awards which may be made in respect of a claim for general damages arising from personal injury. This is to be done by Ministerial regulations to be approved by a resolution of each House and subject to review under the aegis of the Personal Injuries Commission." The objective of such a cap is to bring about a reduction in insurance premiums.
The Personal Injuries Commission found that "soft tissue injury claim costs in this jurisdiction are approximately 4.4 times the comparator costs in the UK taking account of the relevant capping level that applies."
It is important that a balance is struck between genuine Plaintiffs; those persons taking fraudulent advantage of the current system; rising insurance costs as a result of such fraudulent activity; and the risk that if no action is taken it could severely impact access to insurance.
It is too early to say if the Bill will or will not be enacted. If enacted, it is likely that the Bill will have been amended but for now it is still a positive step in trying to address an important issue.
As reflected in the establishment of the Cost of Insurance Working Group, the Government recognises that we have very real challenges with both premium inflation and awards inflation in the insurance sector in this jurisdiction with the ensuing claims inflation coming between them.