By Anna Scanlan, Solicitor, Litigation Department
The Minister for Justice has announced that the government has approved plans to introduce new legislation to deal with catastrophic injury cases. The legislation will allow the courts to make periodic payment orders which they have not been able to make to date.
Under the current regime, there is only provision for a lump sum to be paid which is meant to provide for the injured party for life. There is scope for considerable injustice, as in some cases the injured party could exhaust their lump sum payment if they exceed their anticipated life expectancy. Alternatively, seriously injured plaintiffs could die unexpectedly early in life, leaving their next of kin with a large sum of money. Periodic payment orders mean that plaintiffs can receive payments as needed over the course of their lifetime.
In recent years, the courts had been adjourning final orders in a number of cases in anticipation of legislation which had been expected following a recommendation from the 2010 Working Group on Medical Negligence and Periodic Payments. The Minister has announced that drafting of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill will commence shortly and will take the Working Group’s recommendations into account. The announcement has been welcomed by the President of the High Court, Mr. Justice Nicholas Kearns.