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Concerns raised about proposed referendum to reduce whiplash payouts

New figures revealed that the average award in a whiplash case is over €20,000.

Image: Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

THE GOVERNMENT HAS warned that a referendum may be held to override judges’ discretion in the awarding of compensation claims if they do not reduce whiplash and similar injury payouts within the next two years.

Minister with the responsibility for insurance, Michael D’Arcy described the payouts as “the most expensive in the world” and suggested to the Irish Independent that if the proposed Judicial Council does not lower awards for minor injuries, the Government will do so, holding a referendum.

However, Fianna Fáil’s Business spokesperson, Billy Kelleher said that if the Government plans on intervening in judicial discretion, it should firmly outline its case as to why they believe this is a suitable approach.

“This shouldn’t be an adhoc or knee-jerk move considering the precedent it would set and the implications of so.

Kelleher concluded that he is concerned that the claim made by D’Arcy is designed to directly interfere with the judiciary in the State. 

“There are a number of recommendations put forward by the chairperson of the Personal Injuries Commission that should be examined and implemented foremost to alleviate the cost of claims and before a referendum should even be properly considered,” Kelleher said in a statement. 

Average award in whiplash case over €20,000

Michael D’Arcy’s comments come after data provided by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board revealed that the average award for a whiplash case is over €20,000.

For the first six months of this year, the average award for a whiplash case was €18,581 in general damages (pain and suffering) with a further €1,456 in special damages which covers payment for medical expenses and loss of earnings.

In an interview with the Irish Independent today D’arcy said: 

“If the judges don’t, then the matter will have to be reviewed by the Oireachtas.

“If a referendum is required, we will go with a referendum so that the Oireachtas does have the legal authority to set awards.”

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Adam Daly

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