Dáil debates

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]


6:35 pm

Photo of Carol NolanCarol Nolan (Laois-Offaly, Independent) | Oireachtas source

Gabhaim buíochas leis an nGrúpa Réigiúnach, a chuir an Bille seo os ár gcomhair. Beidh mé ag tabhairt mo thacaíocht iomlán don Bhille. We have a compensation culture in Ireland that needs to be strongly challenged. Many businesses have been left high and dry and many have suffered much distress due to fraudulent compensation claims. This Bill is relevant and appropriate to what is happening in Ireland. As Deputy Naughten made clear, the Bill's aim is to act as a genuine deterrent to those making false claims by increasing penalties for such offences, imposing legal costs on the plaintiff and having such matters referred to the Director of Public Prosecutors for investigation at the court's discretion. This is an excellent objective. I am tempted to say we have enough gangsters in the insurance sector without having chancers in the courtrooms too.

The damage to small firms through insurance fraud is massive. It can wipe out a business financially and destroy the businessperson who has spent many hard years building the business up. Jonathan Hehir, CEO of insuremyshop.ie, said recently:

Shops throughout [this] country [have closed] as a result of crippling fraudulent public liability claims and subsequent premium increases. False claims [he went on to say] are a 'plague' on many small businesses in Ireland, particularly those in retail, where some people attempt to sue after pretending to trip in a shop, or pretending to steal so [that] they can [then] accuse the store for defamation when questioned. From what [this group has seen] on the ground, a significant portion of these cases in some shops are intentionally planned by criminals [who] have invariably benefitted from similar exercises in the past.

That is why this Bill is so important. We need to make it easier for the small business to thrive and more difficult for the criminal or fraudster to profit from the hard work of others.


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