Yesterday afternoon the Committee resolved to table a motion in the Assembly seeking to extend its scrutiny of the new personal injury discount rate (PIDR) legislation to Thursday 28 October. Assuming that is passed (which seems likely) then the passage of the Damages (Return on Investment) Bill looks unlikely to be concluded much, if at all, before the end of 2021. Add in after that up to 90 days for setting a rate under its provisions and it seems we are set for a second year of uncertainty on this important topic and ongoing difficulty in resolving those cases materially affected by the level of the PIDR.
Next week the Committee will formally call for written submissions on the Bill to be made before 30 April and will signpost the points on which it is seeking views. Following that, there might be an outside prospect of oral evidence sessions before the Assembly’s summer recess on 2 July but it might more realistic to work on the basis that those would be scheduled after the summer.
The Department of Justice had hoped to move very quickly with this Bill but it now seems all but certain that will not happen. As we reported here last week, it means that the next key development will therefore be the decision in the recently-heard judicial review proceedings which are challenging the Department’s approach of not setting an ‘interim’ PIDR while this Bill progresses.
Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs