Opposition parties have strongly criticised the new Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Bill, which has been passed in the Dáil.

The Bill provides that in certain circumstances, where a claimant rejects a PIAB assessment and then fails in subsequent court proceedings to get more than the PIAB award, he or she will not be entitled to legal costs.

Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister Micheál Martin said there was no intention to interfere with claimants' rights of access to the courts and the bill was consistent with the objective of the main act to prohibit the bringing of unnecessary legal proceedings.

But Fine Gael's enterprise spokesman Phil Hogan said the party could not support the bill, as it went too far and would prevent people bringing genuine cases to court. He said it trampled all over people's rights.

Labour's Ruairi Quinn highlighted legal advice which warned of constitutional challenges to the Bill.

But employers' group IBEC welcomed what it called the  'closing off of a loophole that was encouraging
unnecessary legal costs in personal injury claims'.