PI Actions – Changes to Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004

13/03/2019

Practitioners should be aware of recent changes that came into effect on 28 January.

Legislative amendment

Recent amendments to the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 (the 2004 Act) have reduced the time for issuing a letter of claim under section 8 and have introduced costs penalties for failing to file a verifying affidavit, where required, within the time specified in section 14.

Section 8 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 provides that a letter of claim stating the nature of the wrong alleged must be provided to an alleged wrongdoer by a claimant who intends to pursue a claim for damages for personal injuries or fatal injuries. From the 28 January 2019, the time for issuing this letter has been reduced, in effect, to “one month from the date of the cause of action”.  Previously, the period for issuing this letter was “2 months from the date of the cause of action, or as soon as practicable thereafter.”

A further amendment provides that the Court hearing the action “shall” rather than “may” draw such inferences from a failure to provide the letter of claim in the time proscribed as appear proper and shall, where the interests of justice so require, penalise the plaintiff as to costs.

Costs implications

A new section 14(4A) has been inserted in to the 2004 Act. It provides that where a party fails to file a verifying affidavit in accordance with section 14 (4), the Court hearing the personal injuries action concerned shall:

“(a) draw such inferences from the failure as appear proper, and (b) where the interests of justice so require—

  1. make no order as to the payment of costs to the party responsible for the failure, or
  2. deduct such amount from the costs that would, but for this subsection, be payable to the party responsible for the failure as it considers appropriate.”.

These amendments to section 8 (1) and section 14 of the 2004 Act were made by section 13, Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018  which was commenced on the 28 January 2019.