The Minister for Justice has published the General Scheme of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill 2015 to empower the courts to award Periodic Payment Orders (PPOs), instead of the current lump sum award, to catastrophically injured persons. The proposals are aimed at providing financial security to those who have been catastrophically injured and require long term care.
The new measures stem from the recommendations of the report of the High Court's Working Group on Medical Negligence and Periodic Payments (2011). The legislation proposes to insert a new Part IVB in the Civil Liability Act 1961.
The legislation would apply to public and private defendants (i.e. to State and to insurance companies or similar). It proposes, inter alia, that:
- The decision to make a periodic payment order would be at the court's discretion, having consulted with the plaintiff and defendant and having considered the needs of the claimant;
- Payments would be indexed to the Irish harmonised Index of Consumer Prices and reviewed at 5-yearly intervals;
- The PPOs could be changed at specified times to accommodate changes in the plaintiff's circumstances (such as the move into full-time education);
- The existing limits on the Insurance Compensation Fund would not apply in cases of PPOs. Accordingly, where an insurance company became insolvent, the full amount due to a PPO plaintiff would be paid in full from the Insurance Compensation Fund, and
- The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) Act 2003 would be amended to enable the PIAB to agree awards in the form of periodic payments, subject to the provisions of the proposed legislation.
The proposals are being forwarded to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, for pre-legislative scrutiny, and to provide an opportunity for further consultation with stakeholders.