An Oireachtas committee has called on judges to dramatically reduce the level of minor personal injury awards when they meet this weekend to consider the matter.

The Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach, said it is conscious of the independence of the judiciary and the Judicial Council process.

But the committee, which published a report on rising motor insurance costs five years ago, said it has identified the issue as one requiring urgent attention in order to bring the cost of motor insurance down.

"A major driver in unsustainable insurance costs is the high level awards for minor injuries provided for in the Book of Quantum, which in turn is directly payable by premium-holders," said Chairman, John McGuinness TD.

"Whiplash, for example, remains 4.4 times higher than the UK, which is in turn the next-worst outlier in Europe for such costs."

"Our report, as well as other key reports by Government and the Personal Injuries Commission, has identified the need to dramatically cut these awards as a potential game-changer in our long-standing insurance crisis."

The full Judicial Council is to meet on Saturday to consider proposed revisions to the levels of awards payable for personal injuries.

However, various media reports have suggested that proposed reductions in the amounts may not go as far as some insurance reform campaigners have been seeking.

This evening though, the Oireachtas Finance committee said failure to deliver significant reductions now would be a major missed opportunity.

It said if new guidelines deliver only moderate reductions in minor injury awards, Ireland will remain a major European outlier in terms of excessive award levels.

In such an event, it added, Irish citizens must be reassured that further, immediate political action must be taken to bring Ireland back in line with a normal, functioning claims environment.  

Earlier, Peter Boland, Director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, said awards for minor personal injuries needs to be reduced by 80%.

Speaking on Drivetime, Mr Boland said a reduction by 80% would bring Ireland in line with damages in the UK.

"It is critical that we don't miss the opportunity on Saturday, to do what's right for Ireland."

He said an "insurance crisis" in Ireland is at the heart of this issue, which he said is "closing down voluntary organisations and SMEs."

"Damages for minor fully recovered injuries are at a scale in Ireland's that's unique to Europe, in that they reward plaintiffs and punish defendants. It is not what damages are supposed to be there for."