Barton J in McGarry v McGarry & ors [2015] IEHC 426 also went on to strongly criticise the fact that the Book of Quantum in relation to personal injuries had not been kept updated to reflect awards of the courts in line with assurances given by the Government at the time of its introduction. 

The Book of Quantum is a guide book that is used by the Personal Injuries Board and the courts when assessing compensation for personal injury claims. It provides a general guide as to the amounts that may be assessed in respect of specified types of injuries, depending on their severity and the length of time they may take to heal. The law requires the Personal Injuries Board and the Courts to have regard to the Book of Quantum when assessing personal injury compensation claims.

Barton J noted that, in assessing general damages, the court is concerned with and required by law to make an award which is fair and reasonable and founded on the evidence. He further noted that the purpose of compensatory damages is intended to restore the plaintiff to the position they were in before the accident, so far as that is possible, by an award of money.  

The range for the plaintiff’s injury in the Book of Quantum was the range of damages applicable to an amputation of the big toe namely €31,800 to €49,900. However, it was submitted on behalf of the plaintiff that for all practical purposes the Book of Quantum was being ignored by the courts because it was so out of date and did not reflect what would now be fair compensation for injuries such as those suffered by the plaintiff.

Barton J stated that it was regrettable and unacceptable that the Book had not been updated since it was first published in 2004 and commented that, where the court is required by law to refer to the Book of Quantum when assessing damages, it is unquestionably in the interests of the proper administration of justice that the Book be reviewed and be kept updated to properly reflect the awards of the courts.

That said, the court was still left with the statutory requirement to refer to the Book when assessing damages in respect of any injuries where a range of damages is specified.  Having referred to the Book of Quantum and having regard to the time elapsed since it was published and applying the principles of law to the assessment of general damages in respect of the plaintiff’s injuries, the court awarded a total sum of €75,000 for pain and suffering to date and into the future.

The sum awarded represents an uplift of approximately 50% to 100% of the range specified in the Book of Quantum.