Inflation concerns as Courts Bill raises Personal Injury jurisdiction limits

The Courts Bill 2013, published by the Government last month, proposes the following with a view of having the bill enacted before July 2013.

 

  1. An increase of jurisdiction of the Circuit Court to €60,000 from €38,092  for  personal injury cases, and to €75,000 for all other types of cases
  2. An increase of jurisdiction with regards to the District Court to €15,000 from €6384 for all types of cases including personal injury claims cases.
  3.  An increase to the jurisdiction of both the Circuit and the District Courts to deal with matters such as emissions, the holding of waste and the detention of substances under environmental and health and safety legislation.
  4. Changes in how the courts deal with Family law matters.

 

Following the publication of the bill, concerns have been raised that the increase in the personal injury jurisdiction, particularly with regard to the Circuit Court, that it may have an inflationary effect and that the courts are not adequately resourced to handle the increased workload.

 

The minister for Justice Alan Shatter T.D. has said that these changes should ultimately lead to the reduction in the burden of legal costs in litigation. He predicts that these changes will lead to a portion of cases currently in the High Court been dealt with in the Circuit Court and those of the Circuit Court been dealt with in the District Court. He further commented that it is 22 years since the jurisdiction levels were increased which he says is “far too long”

 

Taking Minister Shatter’s comments that the changes will lead to lower costs, IBEC says it “welcomes any proposal that could lead to lower legal fees”. However, IBEC is concerned that with the Injuries Board announcing an increase in claims numbers, the changes may impact in the cost of insurance. To deal with this concern, IBEC, in a comment which highlight the inadequacy of the Departments regulatory impact assessment, suggest their should be an impact assessment on the likely cost increases and the impact on competitiveness for Irish businesses.

 

Michael Horan on behalf of the Irish Insurance Federation stated that the “increases in jurisdiction limits tends to increase damages” while at the same time acknowledges that the increases are in line with Inflation, but should have been limited to €50,000.

 

The Bar Council, representing Barristers, and the Law Society, representing Solicitors, have both welcomed the increase in jurisdiction. Both however are concerned that the courts will not be adequately resourced to deal with the changes in jurisdiction limits. The department states their are no proposals to at present to increase the number of

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