Personal injury claimants, Plaintiffs generally and their lawyers should take note of the impending changes to the level of damages that can be awarded to successful Plaintiffs/Counterclaiming Defendants as a result of the recent passing of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013. Part 3 of the Act when the Minister decides to commence it as a law, will change the monetary limits for the District Court (our lowest Court) to bring it up to include all Litigation to the value of €15,000. This change is welcome in my view save that the District Court has an immense caseload as things stand. The bigger change is at Circuit Court level. The Circuit Court will deal with claims up to a limit of €75,000. Most injury board assessments and straight forward Personal Injury actions (not involving serious long term injuries) end up in the Circuit Court. This will have the effect of taking some pressure off the High Court but may in my opinion overload the Circuit Court and lead to protracted hearings at that level. The money limit in the Circuit Court has jumped from €38,000 to €75,000. I think personally a more modest uplift to say €50,000 would have had some merit. The economy is in a deep low cycle. It remains to be seen what effect the changes when passed will have on legal fees and costs generally. Whether it will result in higher awards to claimants at the Circuit Court will also have to be assessed but I think most lawyers will continue to issue bigger claims in the High Court. A provision in the legislation will allow the Circuit Court to award over €75,000 where the case has issued in the High Court but has been sent back to the Circuit Court. Those applications to remit will become even more prevalent I suspect. Insurance companies will often bring applications to remit cases back to lower Courts. I suspect it will be harder for Plaintiffs who have issued claims in the Circuit Court to transfer them up to the High Court unless compelling medical evidence of increased pain and suffering into the future is present. This blog does not constitute legal advice and is an opinion piece only . For any queries on this post or litigation generally please contact Peter Connolly.

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