Wednesday, 9 December 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
The Judicial Council Act 2019 allowed for the nomination of a date for the establishment of the personal injuries guidelines committee which would then prepare guidelines on the level of damages awarded for claims within the State and, for comparative reasons, outside of the State to allow for the promotion of consistency in awards and in terms of the principles for the assessment of awards of damages for personal injuries.
We know the cost of insurance has been crippling business for some time. I welcome yesterday’s Government decision to publish a plan to reform the insurance sector. The plan sets out 66 actions to bring down the cost for consumers and businesses, introduce more competition into the market, prevent fraud and reduce the burden on business and community and voluntary organisations. The plan will replace the book of quantum with new guidelines on the appropriate level of personal injury awards. It will enhance the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. It will also examine the duty of care to strengthen waivers and notices to increase protections for consumers, businesses, sporting clubs and community groups and further strengthen transparency through the expansion of the national claims information database. The plan is to monitor whether personal injury award levels need to be capped and to reduce insurance fraud, including placing perjury on a statutory footing, making the offence easier to prosecute. Another measure is to strengthen the enforcement powers of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, CCPC, to examine dual pricing and to establish an office within the Government to encourage greater insurance market competition.
I welcome the plan and, more importantly, the implementation of the measures outlined in the plan. The plan was launched by the Government yesterday. It included the Tánaiste, Deputy Varadkar, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, the Minister for Justice, Deputy McEntee, the Minister of State at the Department of Finance with responsibility for insurance, Deputy Fleming, and the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with responsibility for trade promotion, Deputy Troy. They all took part in the launch of this campaign. It might be in order for the Leader to seek a debate on insurance with the Minister of State, Deputy Fleming, or whoever else might wish to participate. I welcome the progress evident yesterday in the launch of this comprehensive plan for insurance reform.