Thursday, 6 December 2018
Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Bill 2018: Report and Final Stages
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 5, line 27, to delete “or”.
We had a fruitful discussion and consideration of the issues on Committee Stage last week, including discussion on several proposed amendments. On foot of that consideration and an amendment proposed by Deputy Doherty relating to the inclusion of mediation as one of the settlement channels detailed in section 4, I agreed that I would propose an amendment on behalf of Government to include mediation as a potential settlement channel to be recorded.
According to the 2017 Mediation Act, "mediation" means a confidential facilitative and voluntary process in which parties to a dispute, with the assistance of a mediator, attempt to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve the dispute. There is a difference between this process and arbitration, which is also included as a channel.
While I believe it is correct to differentiate between these two, I wish to highlight that it is likely only to form a small part of the overall gap in information that we have regarding settlement channels. The majority of the gap lies elsewhere as currently we have no information on direct settlements by insurers or on settlements on the steps of the court. This is primarily what we are trying to address since there is a view that claimants may get up to 70% of awards. However there is no certainty around this as it may vary from company to company and there is no overall industry perspective on the matter.
One of the key purposes of collecting claims data by settlement channel is to give greater insight into how costs and awards differ depending on method of settlement. Insurers have expressed concerns that the publication of this information, in particular the settlement amounts made, may drive particular behaviours among claimants. The matter needs to be considered carefully by the Central Bank. While these concerns are being considered, the Central Bank will not be precluded from collecting such information.
The amendment offered today makes good on my commitment on Committee Stage and is relatively straightforward. I do not expect Members to have an issue with it.
I thank everyone for their help in concluding the Bill. This is the second occasion that important insurance legislation has been moved through the Houses. I hope that we will move this through the Seanad next week.
I wish to put on record that I will meet the Garda Commissioner next week to discuss the establishment of an insurance section within the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau. I imagine I will be able to put on record in the Seanad next week the outcome when we are discussing the Bill there.