New legislation to enable the courts to make periodic payments in personal injuries cases has been published by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald.
The long awaited legislation is aimed allowing the courts to replace the current system of lump sum payments with a system of staged payments throughout the injured person’s lifetime.
It stems from a recommendation made in 2011 by a High Court working group on Medical Negligence.
The delay in bringing forward the legislation had been frequently criticised by High Court judges presiding over cases concerning catastrophic injury.
In May last year the President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly described it as "shameful". It had been widely accepted that periodic payments were a more suitable method of compensating those affected enabling a more accurate assessment of the cost of their care needs over time.
Ms Fitzgerald said the Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill 2017 would introduce new measures which would support catastrophically injured people without imposing undue liabilities on insurance companies or other defendants.
She said the bill addresses the concerns raised by the courts about the absence of an alternative to lump sum payments.
Ms Fitzgerald also said it was "important new legislation which will give much-needed financial security to persons who have been catastrophically injured and who require lifelong care and assistance. I hope that the Bill will be enacted as early as possible in 2017".
The new bill gives the courts the power to award damages by way of periodic payments orders and sets out principles regarding the security of those payments.
The legislation will also make provision to protect the payments in the event of an insurance company becoming insolvent or in a case of bankruptcy.