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Civil Liability (Capping of General Damages) Bill 2019

PRESS RELEASE: 28th of March 2019


  • Senator Lawlor took his private member’s Civil Liability Bill 2019 to second stage in the Seanad today. However, ISME believe this bill will get nowhere fast.
ISME welcomes the fact that Senator Anthony Lawlor took his private member’s Civil Liability (Capping of General Damages) Bill 2019 to second stage in the Seanad today (28th March).
However, the equivocal manner in which the Justice Minister spoke about it suggests that this bill will get nowhere fast; and if it ever progresses, it will be amended to the point of toothlessness, as was the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015.

While the Minister noted the importance of not interfering with the constitutional rights of plaintiffs (which nobody seeking insurance reform is suggesting should happen), he neglected the fact that the constitutional property rights of business owners are being eroded daily in our courts by a system which unjustly enriches those who have ‘suffered’ the most minor of paracetamol injuries, or no injury at all.

The constitutional rights of plaintiffs, so eloquently described by the Minister during the Seanad debate, are enshrined by Article 40.3.2 of the constitution. These rights are lavishly vindicated in our personal injuries system and our judiciary. But they are being vindicated by trampling over the same property rights enjoyed by motorists, business owners, creche and hospitality operators. Those learned members of the legal profession who huff and puff about the constitutional rights of personal injuries claimants are entirely silent about the Article 45 rights to earn a livelihood among the 25 employees in the Kidspace play centres who will lose their jobs because the business cannot afford its insurance.

The difference, of course, is that lawyers make 40% on injuries claims, but get nothing for redundancies. Our courts facilitate and supervise a reverse Robin Hood scam, where money is taken from the poor, and distributed to rich lawyers and underwriters, and in many cases dubious plaintiffs.

Senator Conway-Walsh noted the absence of data around the insurance industry. This has worsened with the departure of the Blue Book, which the Central Bank of Ireland blames on Solvency II legislation.

As Senator James Reilly rightly pointed out, it is in the matter of quantum for minor injuries that Ireland is so markedly out of kilter with the rest of the world. No one is suggesting that those who have suffered serious or life-altering illnesses should not be compensated, and compensated well.

While Minister Flanagan did bring the news that he will shortly bring the Judicial Council Bill back to the Senate, there was nothing else to suggest that the business closures occurring weekly because of exorbitant insurance costs will be stopped.


Notes to the Editor:

ISME should be referred to as the Irish SME Association.

For further information, please contact ISME offices T: 01 6622755 E: [email protected]