knowledge | 5 April 2019 |
Personal Injuries Litigation: New Early Notice Rules and Personal Injuries Assessment Board (“PIAB”) Amendments in Ireland
Recent months have seen a number of significant legislative changes in the area of personal injuries litigation.
PIAB is Ireland’s independent State body which assesses personal injuries compensation. All personal injuries plaintiffs (apart from those cases classed as medical negligence) must apply to PIAB and cannot initiate legal proceedings without a PIAB certificate of authorisation.
On 3 April 2019, new rules around the operation of PIAB came into effect via the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019. While some of these changes are quite technical, they are to be welcomed as they address anomalies identified by the courts, streamline certain procedures and encourage parties to co-operate fully with PIAB.
New rules have also been introduced via the Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018 which require personal injuries claimants in Ireland to give early notice of their claims. These changes should help businesses and their advisors to assess claims earlier. We set out some of the key changes below.
Civil Liability and Courts Act Amendments
Section 8 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 (the “2004 Act”) has been amended so that a personal injuries plaintiff must serve a letter of claim, which states the nature of the alleged wrong, on the alleged wrongdoer within one month of the cause of action. If a plaintiff fails to do so, the court is now obliged to draw such inferences as appear proper and if justice so requires, penalise the plaintiff on costs.
Section 14 of the 2004 Act which introduced the requirement for parties in a personal injuries action to swear a verifying affidavit in respect of any pleadings which make “assertions or allegations” has also been amended. Where a party fails to lodge the verifying affidavit in court within 21 days of service of the pleading or such later agreed period, the court must now draw the proper inferences and penalise the defaulting party on costs if required in the interests of justice. The new requirements apply to claims arising on or after 28 January 2019.
Personal Injuries Assessment Board Amendments
It is now no longer necessary for a claimant to include a medical report with the application form to PIAB in order to stop time running for the purposes of the Statute of Limitations. However, if a medical report is not lodged, and while the respondent may receive a preliminary notice of the claim, the formal notice to the respondent will not be sent by PIAB until the outstanding medical report is received.
Where a claim has been submitted to PIAB and one or more respondents are later added to that existing claim, the recent amendments confirm that time continues to run against the claimant under the Statute of Limitations in respect of those additional respondents until the date of their addition to the claim. This amendment to the operation of PIAB resolves the anomaly identified in the case of Renehan v T&S Taverns.1
There is now also an increased emphasis on the parties’ obligations to comply with PIAB procedures. To this end, the court may now penalise parties on costs where a PIAB assessor has requested:
- additional information or documents from a party;
- a party to provide assistance to retained experts or furnish information or documents or co-operate with those experts;
- the claimant to submit to a medical examination
and the relevant party has not complied with this request.
This change applies to PIAB applications made on or after 3 April 2019 or to existing applications where a PIAB assessor has not yet made the relevant request.
How can we help?
Our team in McCann FitzGerald is happy to address any questions our clients may have on the implications of the legislation on existing or upcoming personal injuries litigation. In the alternative, your usual contact in McCann FitzGerald would be happy to provide further information.
-  IESC 8.
This briefing is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. Such advice should always be taken before acting on any of the matters discussed.