A failed High Court challenge to new personal injury guidelines slashing compensation awards could be heard as a “leapfrog” appeal by the Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan, the judge who rejected the challenge, was told that, while preliminaries in an appeal against his decision are scheduled next month before the Court of Appeal (CoA), a separate application has been made to have the appeal heard before the Supreme Court.
An appeal that travels directly from the High Court to the Supreme Court, bypassing the CoA, is often referred to as a “leapfrog appeal”.
The failed challenge related to a test action by Bridget Delaney from Dungarvan, Co Waterford, who sued over an ankle injury from a fall on a public footpath. She claimed the €3,000 she was offered by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board was insufficient and should have been between €18,000 and €34,000.
The reason for the level of the award was that in March 2021, the Judicial Council, the body representing all of the State’s judges, voted to adopt new guidelines slashing awards. Ms Delaney claimed the Judicial Council acted outside its powers and in breach of her constitutional rights by adopting the guidelines.
A number of similar challenges awaited the outcome of the Delaney decision, which was delivered last June.
They came before Mr Justice Meenan on Wednesday when he was told that some have settled while others were awaiting the outcome of the Delaney appeal.
The judge said in those circumstances he would adjourn the outstanding cases until after the appeal.
John Rogers SC, for one of the litigants, said his action was different from the Delaney case as it involved the question of whether the role of the Judicial Council was an offence to the constitutional separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive, which, he said, was not dealt with in the Delaney judgment.
Mr Justice Meenan disagreed, saying the point was effectively dealt with in the Delaney judgment.
However, he said he was prepared to adjourn Mr Rogers’s case and others where similar arguments have been made until next month to allow the office of the Chief State Solicitor to respond.
All other similar cases were adjourned to January to await the Delaney appeal.