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Minister still favours quasi-judicial PIAB
Minister of State Robert Troy Pic: RollingNews.ie

08 Apr 2022 / personal injury Print

Minister still favours quasi-judicial PIAB

Robert Troy (Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation) has not ruled out a further attempt to reform the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) into a quasi-judicial body.

He told the Dáil yesterday (7 April) that he believed there was “an opportunity to go further later”.

The minister announced plans in February to draft the Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill, which aims to facilitate an increase in the number of personal-injury claims resolved through PIAB processes. 

Minister Troy told the Seanad at the time that the Attorney General (AG) had advised against turning the PIAB into a quasi-judicial body.

WRC limits

In the Dáil yesterday (7 April), Fianna Fáil TD James Lawless asked Minister Troy to re-examine this issue, citing the Supreme Court's recent decision in Zalewski v WRC, which found that the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) was grounded in statute, and was a legitimate forum for claims. 

Minister Troy said that, while the Supreme Court had found the WRC to be administering justice, it also found that this was permissible under the Constitution, given the limits of the subject matter applicable to cases coming before the WRC. 

“A similar argument may not be successful regarding PIAB, given that personal-injury claims involve broader legal considerations that have been determined by the courts over time, rather than the statutory employment law issues which come before the WRC,” he said.

Constitutional issue

The minister added that he had been unable to persuade the AG that the PIAB could be turned into a quasi-judicial body, as the AG clearly felt there was a significant difference between the caseload of the WRC and that which would fall to be decided by a quasi-judicial PIAB. 

The minister said that the AG had argued that such an approach might impinge on the constitutional right of access to justice delivered by the courts, as well as the primacy of the courts regarding the administration of justice.

The minister said: “It was felt, however, that rather than stall the progress we are making, that we would start with this proposal, and it will not prevent us from working further to enhance PIAB even more later.”

‘Simplistic and naïve comparisons’

Past-President of the Law Society, Stuart Gilhooly SC, said: “It is inconceivable that the PIAB could operate as a quasi-judicial body.  It is a completely different animal to the WRC, and comparisons are both simplistic and naïve. 

“The constitutional right of access to the courts, combined with the constitutional right to bodily integrity, would open up a minefield of legal problems for any such proposal. The Attorney General has clearly provided sound advice, as one would expect, and I’m sure Government will heed it.”

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland