Challenge to constitutionality of parts of laws that established Judicial Council

Four Courts at Night

10 December 2021

A company director has launched a challenge to the constitutionality of certain parts of laws that established the Judicial Council, the body whose members are all judges in the State. 

The challenge, which was mentioned before the High Court on Friday, has been brought by Kevin Thompson from Donaghpatrick, Navan, Co Meath, who claims he sustained injuries to his arm, wrist, thumb, back, and legs in a road traffic incident in 2018. 

He sued the driver of a vehicle he claims collided with his and made an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) seeking compensation. 

He claims his assessment was deliberately held up by the PIAB until new guidelines on personal injuries awards came into being. 

Mr Thompson claims his rights were breached when the Judicial Council voted in March 2021 to introduce new personal injuries guidelines which will result in personal injuries awards being reduced.

He claims that the 2019 Act wrongfully allowed the Judicial Council to either adopt or refuse to adopt personal injuries guidelines on how much should be paid out to successful claimants.

Following the council’s decision, the new guidelines, which were formulated by a committee of the Judicial Council, became binding on the Irish courts and PIAB. 

In proceedings against the Minister for Justice and Equality, Ireland and the Attorney General, Mr Thompson seeks various declarations including that several sections of the 2019 Judicial Council Act are incompatible with the Irish Constitution.

If necessary he also seeks a declaration that the involvement of members of the judiciary in the formulation of personal injuries guidelines is incompatible with the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary. 

The State defendants deny the claims that the sections are unconstitutional. 

The defendants claim that the guidelines have been brought in to promote consistency in the level of awards and transparency as to comparative quantum and the comparability of awards in this jurisdiction to others.

The State will also argue that the 2019 Act respects the independence of the courts and judicial functions.

If you would like an assessment of a claim, you can use the online form available here without obligation or alternatively you can use the automatic claim calculator.

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