Ireland update: split discount rates here, PPOs on the way

The decision yesterday of Ireland’s Court of Appeal to uphold personal injury discount rates of 1.5% and 1.0% will have significant implications. Assuming it stands and is widely applied, it is likely that the future pecuniary loss elements of serious personal injury claims in Ireland will be subject to quite notable increases (given that reducing the discount rate from its previous 3% acts to increase the multipliers in any given claim). The decision, in Russell v HSE, adopts and adapts much of the common law principles set down in England & Wales in 1998 in Wells v Wells. The question of the discount rate in England & Wales is of course reserved to statute. A rate of 2.5% was set in 2001 and remains at that level.

The Irish Courts do not have powers to make periodical payment orders (PPOs); a gap which the Court of Appeal was keen that the Irish Parliament should take steps to fill. A draft Bill which outlined a scheme for PPOs was published by the Irish Justice Department in May 2015. It is based heavily on the reforms brought about by the Courts Act 2003 in England & Wales and was subject to a round of pre-legislative scrutiny organised by the Irish Parliament’s Justice Committee over the summer.

There is little doubt that Russell decision – which we analyse here – will have an expensive effect on claims. Given its date of 5th of November, it remains to be seen if it acts like a firework to reignite the progress of the PPO Bill through the Irish Parliament.

About the Author

akAlistair Kinley is BLM’s Director of Policy & Government Affairs.

Alistair is responsible for BLM’s engagement with government departments and regulators on policy and public affairs issues and consultations affecting the firm and its customers. He coordinated BLM’s market-facing activities in connection with the Insurance Act 2015 and the consultations which preceded its publication and introduction in Parliament.

He is a member of the Civil Justice Council (CJC), a regular speaker and experienced commentator on legal and procedural reforms and was a contributing editor to the Law Society’s Litigation Funding Handbook (September 2014).

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