Man challenges new personal injuries guidelines at the High Court

Another High Court challenge has been brought against the new personal injuries guidelines.

The latest action has been brought by Anthony Douglas who has sued Dublin City Council, Virgin Media Ireland, and the ESB over injuries he claims he sustained following a trip and fall on a public footpath on Bangor Road, Crumlin on June 20th, 2019.

The action came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan, who on an ex-parte basis, granted Mr Douglas’s lawyers permission to bring the challenge.

Noting that several other similar cases, also brought against the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) and the State over the guidelines, are pending before the court, the Judge expressed his hope that directions can be agreed between the parties in the coming weeks to allow the court to fix a hearing date for a lead or test action sometime in the early New Year.

The cases pending before the court are being opposed by PIAB and the State.

In the latest action to come before the court, Mr Douglas, a general operative from York Street Flats, York Street, Dublin 2, has brought proceedings against the council, Virgin Media and the ESB seeking damages for alleged negligence due to a failure to repair the public footpath.

Mr Douglas, represented by Ferry’s solicitors, claims that after tripping on the surface of a footpath he suffered soft tissue injuries to his right shoulder, and he had to be treated in hospital.

His claim was initially brought against Dublin City Council in 2020 but following legal advice he subsequently added both Virgin Media and the ESB to the action.

The claims are denied.

Claims

After being joined to his claim, the ESB consented to Mr Douglas’s claim being assessed by PIAB.

He claims that PIAB should have regard to the general guidelines, and the amounts that may be awarded or assessed in personal injury claims, contained in the Book of Quantum, when assessing his application and making an award.

However, he claims that arising out of a delay in considering his application, an assessment of his injuries will be made under new personal injuries guidelines which he claims provide for substantially reduced awards for general damages.

He claims that this amounts to breach of fair procedures and breaches his right of access to the courts.

In March 2021 the judicial council, a body made up of all the State’s judges, voted to adopt a new set of guidelines regarding awards for personal injuries.

He claims that the requirement in the 2019 Judicial Council Act that members of the judiciary vote on the new guidelines is inconsistent with the independence of the judiciary.

Orders sought

In his judicial review proceedings against PIAB, the Judicial Council, Ireland and the Attorney General, Mr Douglas seeks various orders and declarations.

These include orders quashing the assessment PIAB made in respect of Mr Douglas’s claim.

He also seeks a range of declarations including that PIAB acted outside its powers and breached his rights to natural and constitutional justice in the manner by which it assessed his claim.

He further seeks declarations that the Judicial Council acted outside of its powers last March when it voted to adopt the personal injuries guidelines, and that provisions of the 2019 Judicial Council Act are in breach of both the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

His case will be mentioned before the court at a later date.

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