|Insurance environment has not only failed to improve, it has worsened markedly The incoming Justice Minister needs to be a person independent of the commercial needs of the legal lobby and not beholden to them in any way Gardaí have yet to mount a single prosecution under Section 14 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004, despite an abundance of falsely sworn affidavits being available to investigate.|
|While businesses struggle to reopen and recover in an economic climate that has been radically altered by Covid-19, another issue of vital importance to them has not only failed to improve, it has worsened markedly. In the month of June alone, SME owners have noted with great concern: A four-year probe by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission into anti-competitive practices in the insurance industry, which we were told in February 2019 ‘was at its latter stage,’ is yet to be completed. A High Court judge approved a settlement of €50,000 for a boy who hurt his finger at a party in a leisure centre, despite CCTV showing that the child was injured by a member of the public. A Circuit Court judge refused to refer to the DPP a fraudulent claimant who admitted having sworn false and misleading information in a personal injuries affidavit. Another Circuit Court judge who dismissed a personal injuries plaintiff for serious inconsistencies in her evidence, ‘paid tribute’ to her legal team, and said she had no one to blame but herself. Another Circuit Court judge awarded €5,000 for whiplash to a man in a minor motor collision, despite evidence in court that he was not in the car, and his witness was a serial personal injuries claimant. Gardaí have yet to mount a single prosecution under Section 14 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004, despite an abundance of falsely sworn affidavits being available to investigate. It is motorists, business and premises owners who are the victims in this scandal. They no longer view the Irish justice system as neutral arbiters in allocating legal responsibility for injuries. They see our courts straining laws on occupier’s liability to the limit to relieve plaintiffs of all personal responsibility for their actions, and to award them unjust levels of damages that will continue to attract people back to the honeypot indefinitely. By happy coincidence, this system also ensures that the lawyers and associated medical, insurance and engineering professionals all get paid.|
This is not sustainable.
Most of the reforms needed to fix our broken personal injuries system will have to come from the Department of Justice. Our new Justice Minister will have to face down the highly remunerated vested interests who have opposed meaningful reform for decades. The incoming Justice Minister needs to be a person independent of the commercial needs of the legal lobby and not beholden to them in any way. He or she will have to robustly represent the rights of citizens against the defenders of the personal injuries Ponzi scheme. If our current personal injuries system cannot be fixed quickly, it is inevitable that it will be removed from the courts system at first instance, and be allocated to an independent quasi-judicial expert body free of vested interest.Our newly elected TDs need to act now to defend the interests of small businesses in their constituencies