The Irish SME Association (ISME) has written to Justice Minister for Justice and Equality Heather Humphreys TD following calls from the judiciary for more High Court judges. While ISME recognises that Ireland has a relatively low number of judges per head of population, there is also a great deal that can be done within our legal system to reduce the administrative burden on our judges and on our Courts Service before we embark on large-scale recruitment to the judicial benches.
The call for extra judges comes a week after a report from the Central Bank which showed that the courts are clogged with tens of thousands of personal injuries cases where the plaintiffs would be far better off taking a PIAB award then litigating their case in court. The Employers’ Liability, Public Liability and Commercial Property Insurance Report by the Central Bank showed that in Employer’s Liability cases worth less than €100,000, and in Public Liability cases worth less than €150,000, plaintiffs received less money through litigation than they would have from PIAB, and wait on average 2.7 years to get the lower sum. In fact, in litigated Public Liability cases worth less than €30,000, plaintiffs receive less than half the award they would get from PIAB. This effectively means that 100% of plaintiffs in the Circuit Court are losing money by litigating their action rather than accepting a PIAB award. This scandalous state of affairs demonstrates that a substantial cohort of personal injuries lawyers are acting not in the best interests of their clients, but of themselves.
ISME has advised the Minister that there is no good reason not to proceed with substantial reform of PIAB, to allow it to function as a tribunal of first instance and assess injuries and make awards. ISME has also asked the Minister to press on aggressively with reform of the Occupiers’ Liability Act and the Defamation Act, and with the commencement of the Criminal Justice (Perjury and Related Offences) Act at the earliest possible opportunity. Truth in our courts should not have to wait.
The letter is available here.
Neil McDonnell, ISME – (087) 299 5658 – [email protected]