Dáil debates

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill 2022: Second Stage


4:22 pm

Photo of John Paul PhelanJohn Paul Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Leas-Chathaoirleach and I thank Deputy Colm Burke for sharing his time.

I wish to make a few points on this important legislation. I welcome it and welcome the fact that some progress has been made over the past few years through various reforms in the insurance sector, and I also welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Calleary, back from his brief hiatus into office.

Some progress has been made in different aspects relating to the insurance sector. Deputy Calleary's colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Fleming, may be directly responsible.

I acknowledge that the office to promote competition in the insurance sector in Ireland has been established but one of the glaring issues in so many aspects of insurance is the lack of competition between providers. In some sectors of the economy, businesses, in particular, are unable to get quotes at certain times when certain underwriters have pulled out of the market. Those problems seemed to have eased somewhat.

The personal injury guidelines, which were mentioned by Deputy Catherine Murphy and others, have kicked in in the courts but we only have to look at decisions of the courts on a fairly regular basis still to see that decisions made and awards granted are still varying substantially. Each case is taken on its own merits but one would have expected maybe a degree of uniformity to have emerged once the guidelines were put into effect. That has not really been seen to emerge yet.

This legislation is good in the sense that it proposes a number of extra powers for the PIAB, which has been a welcome arrival. It is almost 20 years in existence.

This legislation specifically allows for mediation, which is to be very much welcomed.

I disagree somewhat, maybe, with some of what Deputy Catherine Murphy said. Maybe I am picking her up wrong, but I think she spoke about punishing people who do not go down the route of the board. People still have a constitutional right to vindicate their rights in court. I do not think there should be any question of punishment. I am always more in favour of the carrot than the stick. If PIAB is working efficiently and its replacement now in the resolution board works efficiently and quickly and delivers an appropriate result, by its nature I think that would lead more people who would be potential litigants into taking that course of action. Generally, over the years, PIAB, in its previous incarnation, managed to achieve that. There were various bumps along the road.

I often find with constituents who have individual queries that there is a lack of knowledge from time to time among the general public as to what PIAB is and what it does. I am sure all the public representatives in this Chamber and elsewhere have at various times pointed constituents in the right direction. I welcome the fact that the Bill contains specific provision for that and I welcome the legislation in general.


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