The President of the Law Society of Ireland has expressed concern that the new Personal Injuries Guidelines, which came into effect on 24 April, will reduce access to justice for many injured people.
James Cahill (pictured) also accused the insurance industry of “avarice”, saying insurers preferred to safeguard their “eye-watering profits” rather than confirm reductions for customers as a result of the new guidelines.
He stated that the introduction of the guidelines meant that “the insurance industry has triumphed at the expense of the ordinary citizen”, adding that the balance needed to be redressed.
The new guidelines, which were approved by the Judicial Council, will be used by both the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) and the courts to assess compensation in personal-injury claims. The guidelines reduced the amounts that can be awarded for many categories of injury.
“The insurance companies like to put the blame on victims and their solicitors, while they are the ones reaping enormous profits,” said Mr Cahill.
The president also expressed concern about reduced access to justice, saying many injured people would be appearing before the already overburdened District and Circuit Courts, which, he said, were ill-equipped to handle the increase in cases.
“These courts cannot allocate the necessary time to have injured people’s cases heard,” he said. “This added pressure on those courts will require more judges, staff and courtrooms to resolve. Failing that, the inevitable result will be huge delays. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
‘Insult to injury’
Mr Cahill said the Society had always supported the decision to ask the Judicial Council to set appropriate personal injuries guidance, but he said solicitors could not be true to their clients and support “enormous reductions”.
“There is no denying that the effect of the severe reductions outlined will leave many injured people substantially undercompensated – adding insult to injury,” he said.