A High Court judge has queried why minor injuries suffered by gardaí are assessed in the High Court resulting in legal costs that are multiples of the actual sums awarded.
Mr Justice Michael Twomey said the State could be saving millions of euro in costs if cases were assessed in lower courts or settled.
He made the remarks after awarding €5,000 for what he said was essentially bruising to the hand of a Garda while he was making an arrest.
He refused to award the €21,000 sought by lawyers. An award of €5,000 could cost the state €20,000, the judge said.
It was the fifth time the same garda had made a claim under the Garda Compensation Act.
Garda compensation claims are heard in the High Court rather than the District or Circuit Court, leading to the costs being multiples of the award in damages.
There was also no incentive for garda compensation cases to be settled without the expense of a court hearing, he said.
Since he took over the garda compensation list at the start of this year, the settlement rate was about 1% when it was about 90% in civilian cases.
Garda compensation cases are also not subject to the personal injuries assessment board with the effect they may only be processed in the High Court at considerable expense, he said.
Costs of assessing the existing 682 garda compensation cases there could be some €13.6 million, with more cases being added every year.
Judge Twomey said the system gives lawyers a "perverse" financial initiative not to try and settle minor claims because settlement would mean they would lose their guaranteed payment for a court hearing.
If the system was changed on lines suggested by him, there could be possible savings of millions, he said.
He made the comments in a judgment today awarding €5,000 for a hand injury suffered by Garda Niall Kampff and setting out principles governing awards for injuries suffered by gardaí.
Garda Kampff bruised his hand against shelves while trying to arrest a suspect in September 2013, was treated with anti-inflammatories, his arm was strapped and put in a sling and he was on sick leave for five days.
His lawyers had urged the judge to award about €21,700 for the injury and, in doing so, relied on the Book of Quantum which sets out guidelines for awards in civilian personal injury cases.
Mr Justice Twomey said he did not consider awarding anything close to that sum in this case could be justified for "what was in essence bruising to the hand".
There was no fracture, the garda did not require any pain medication or physiotherapy and he had fully recovered, the judge said.
He ruled the appropriate compensation was €5,000 and also noted special damages for medical expenses had been agreed at €1,185.
The judge stressed it is "beyond question" gardaí are entitled to be compensated for their injuries and he was struck by the bravery of gardaí who on a daily basis risk their lives so members of the public can live peaceful lives.
He said that thankfully, the vast majority of claims before the court relate to minor injuries.
This is the fifth case that Garda Kampff has made under the Garda Compensation Acts, he said.
The first claim arose from a kick to his hand leading to a fracture and post traumatic stress disorder in relating to a bite injury from one incident in 1993.
The second claim, in 1995, related to a road traffic accident at work and resulted in his suffering severe anxiety thereafter.
The third claim related to facial abrasions and conjunctivitis from a road traffic accident at work in 1996 and the fifth claim related to a soft tissue injury to his scrotum in 1997.