This afternoon the Government Actuary’s Department released an amended version of the Ogden tables which now includes the new discount rate of -1.75 for Northern Ireland. The relevant webpage of the GAD’s site explains that “Under the Damages (Personal Injury) Order (Northern Ireland) 2021, made under section 1 of the Damages Act 1996, the prescribed discount rate to be taken into account by the courts in Northern Ireland when assessing lump sum damages awards for personal injury was lowered from 2.5% to -1.75% with effect from 31 May 2021. As the tables of multipliers in the original 8th edition of the Ogden Tables are not tabulated at a discount rate of -1.75% updated tables have been issued. The text of the Explanatory notes has been updated and a number of other minor typographical amendments have also been made.”
Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs, BLM
Although the Damages (Return on Investment) Bill passed its second stage in the Assembly at just after half past three this afternoon, the scheduling of its Committee stage remains unclear and contested. We have already written about the evident tension between the Justice Minister and the Committee that was all too clear in pre-legislative hearings and was again present in today’s debate.
The Bill to reset the legal basis of the personal injury discount rate (PIDR) in Northern Ireland was published this week following its introduction to the Assembly. As was expected, and as we tweeted yesterday, it’s a lift and shift from the approach in Scotland with one main change: a longer assumed investment period of 43 years rather than 30. The investment portfolio, however, is identical. We have said previously that all that can be taken from this, for the time being, is that had the NI PIDR been set using this approach at the same time as the Scottish rate was set at -0.75% – ie back in Q3 2019 – it might have been a little higher than that. How quickly the Bill (its home page is here) might proceed is both politically contentious (as set out in my last blog about it) and unclear. We may get a better idea of timescales from the second stage debate which is likely to take place next week and may at times be ‘robust’.
Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs