The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald has just published the Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill 2017 which will enable the Courts to make periodic payments in certain personal injury cases.

This long awaited legislation stems from a recommendation made in 2011 by a working group on medical negligence. It also follows marked judicial criticism of the existing system of lump sum payments in cases of catastrophic injury claims.

Periodic Payment Orders (“PPOs”) are confined to those cases involving catastrophically injured plaintiffs. The objective is to give much needed financial security to those plaintiffs who will require lifelong care and assistance.

A “catastrophic injury” is defined as “a personal injury which is of such severity that it results in a permanent disability requiring the person to receive lifelong care and assistance in all activities of daily living or a substantial part thereof”.

Under the terms of the Bill, the Court must:

  • Have regard for the best interest of the plaintiff.
  • Take account of the nature of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff.
  • Take account of the preferences of all parties regarding the form of the award which would best meet the plaintiff’s needs.

The Bill also contains a provision to ensure that the Court only makes a PPO where it is satisfied that the continuity of payments are reasonably secure. How that is to be achieved is as yet unclear.

Payments will be indexed and adjusted on an annual basis in line with the prevailing rate under the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices.

The Bill is currently before the Seanad and we will keep you updated with any developments in relation to the progression of the Bill through the Houses of the Oireachtas.