Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill 2022
The Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill (the Bill) seeks to amend the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Acts 2003-2019, with its primary aim to increase the level of personal injury claims being settled in the PIAB process. The Bill is the latest step in the reform of the personal injury claims landscape in this jurisdiction following the adoption and statutory implementation of the Personal Injuries Guidelines in April 2021.
The Bill proposes the following key changes:
The Bill introduces the option of mediation, which could be facilitated by PIAB through a Mediation Officer. The mediation process will operate separately, but concurrently, with PIAB’s already established assessment process. This will ensure that PIAB assessments will continue on the current timeline for the assessment of claims.
At all times, parties to the mediation process are entitled to be represented by their own legal advisor or, if they wish, to obtain independent legal advice.
It is of interest to note that there is no reference in the Bill as to how the costs of the appointed mediator will be discharged.
Furthermore, it may mark a departure from the current process where PIAB does not concern itself with liability issues.
Assessment of complex claims
The Bill seeks to extend the powers of PIAB to assess more complex injuries to include psychological injuries. PIAB currently has a statutory timeframe of a maximum of 15 months within which to assess any claim. The Bill proposes that when dealing with claims involving a more complex injury, the time to assess these claims will be extended for a period of up to two years. In tandem with the expanded range of injuries provided in the Judicial Guidelines in terms of the range of injuries, this ought to lead to more complex claims being dealt with by PIAB.
In an attempt to increase the amount of claims accepted in the PIAB process, the Bill removes judicial discretion to make an adverse costs award in cases where a claimant rejects a PIAB assessment, which a respondent/insurer has accepted and subsequently fails to achieve a higher award in court.
A claimant will now face paying their own costs together with the defendant’s costs incurred in the defence of this litigation.
Provision of information
Claimants will be required to supply their Personal Public Service Numbers to allow PIAB to verify their identity in an attempt to reduce identity fraud. This Bill goes further with PIAB reporting any suspected offences, such as fraud, to An Garda Síochána.
The Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill is the latest welcome step in the reform of the personal injury claims landscape in Ireland, with the intention to increase the number of claims resolved pre-litigation. There is, however, a concern that the Bill will simply increase delays already experienced with the PIAB assessment process, particularly with the proposed mediation feature. Furthermore, only the General Scheme of the Bill has been published and further detail will be required before the full scope of the proposed reform is known.
Related item: The Personal Injuries Guidelines 2021: Ireland