31 July 2020

Courts Service Annual Report 2019 from a claims perspective

A review from a claims perspective

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Courts Service Annual Report 2019 from a claims perspective

The Annual Report for 2019 from the Courts Service has been published.

Looking at Personal Injury cases, the figures are:

Courts Service Annual Report 2019: Personal Injury cases
Courts Service Annual Report 2019: Personal Injury cases

* Includes medical negligence awards

^ Exclusive of medical negligence awards

Of the cases where an award was made in the High Court^, 42% resulted in an award at or below €60,000 in 2019, compared to 36% in 2018.

In the Circuit Court, 34% of cases resulted in an award at or below €15,000 in 2019, compared to 36% in 2018. Finally, where an award was made in the District Court, 50% of cases resulted in an award at or below €7,500 in 2019, compared to 45% in 2018.

Court of Appeal

As of the 1st of January 2019, the Court of Appeal had 66 personal injury cases pending. Through the year, a total of 59 were received and 58 were concluded be it in or out of Court, leaving a total of 67 cases pending. There were 154 written judgments delivered in 2019, as against 176 in 2018.

The report shows that the number of cases lodged into the Courts Service has dropped slightly by 0.3%. The number of cases resolved in 2019 against 2018, be it by way of the Court or out of Court, has decreased at the same rate as previously i.e. by 0.69%.

It is evident that the new Court jurisdictions are starting to come through in relation to the courts which cases are lodged. There is a reduction in cases lodged in the High Court by 10.1% whilst the Circuit and District Court show an increase.

It is interesting to see, that the average award in the High Court (exclusive of medical negligence cases) has increased by 37.6%, but the average award in the Circuit and District Courts has decreased 2.1% and 0.9% respectively. The average awards would seem to be reverting back to the 2017 levels.

As stated last year, within 2019 there were a few large high profile medical negligence awards which is borne out in the average award rising drastically by 75.8%.

The report shows that the average cost of awards in the High Court increasing by 37.6%, which is a worrying trend. There was speculation after the 2018 report was issued that the Courts had recalibrated their awards due to the directions received from the Court of Appeal in relation to awards.

The key points of the report can be summarised as:

  • the number of cases filed is down;
  • the average award per jurisdiction is up significantly in the High Court and down slightly in the Circuit and District Court;
  • the number of claims being settled at the lower end of each jurisdiction scale has increased in the High and District Court but decreased in the Circuit Court; and
  • the overall average award is up by 18.9%^ compared with 2018 but still 20% on the average award in 2017.

Over the last few years there has been a large increase in the reporting of insurance matters within the media and it is interesting that the reduction seen last years in the average High Court awards has filtered down to the lower Courts. However, what is of concern is that the increase in the High Court average award in 2019 will have a knock on effect for the lower Courts, which might be borne out in next year’s report.

Michael Whelan, Head of Casualty

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