NI: Lawyers call for personal injury discount rate to be brought in line with England and Wales
Lawyers have called on the Department of Justice to bring the personal injury discount rate in Northern Ireland in line with the rate in England and Wales.
The discount rate is a percentage used to adjust the lump sum awards for future losses, costs and expenses received by victims of life-changing injuries to account for the amount victims can expect to earn by investing their awards.
The Ministry of Justice has announced that the discount rate in England and Wales will be raised from -0.75 per cent to -0.25 per cent with effect from 5 August.
It was last revised in 2017, when the discount rate was lowered from 2.5 per cent, which continues to be the discount rate in Northern Ireland.
Gordon Dalyell, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), told the Belfast Telegraph that the disparity “needs to be addressed immediately”.
Mr Dalyell said: “Injured people in Northern Ireland must take greater risks to make their money stretch to meet their needs for life. But risk does not always mean reward, as their compensation could run out.
“It is wholly unfair for vulnerable people and their families to have to live with this terrifying uncertainty. The disparity needs to be addressed immediately and the power to change that rests with Stormont.
“It cannot be right that people with life-long, life-changing injuries in Northern Ireland are subject to a discount rate which is deemed no longer appropriate elsewhere in the UK.
“We want to see injured people in all jurisdictions treated in the same way and I will be urging Northern Ireland’s Department of Justice to bring the region in line with the rest of the UK.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said: “The department has been keeping the discount rate in Northern Ireland under review, awaiting the settled position regarding the discount rates in the rest of the UK.
“While we are aware of the Lord Chancellor’s written statement of July 15, we have also been awaiting the settled position in Scotland.
“In that regard, the rate-assessor (the Government Actuary) started his statutory review on July 1. This must be completed within 90 days. Following that, we will consider this matter further.
“In the interim, it is worth noting the power in section 1 (2) of the Damages Act 1996 for a court to take a different discount rate into account, where a party can show that it is more appropriate.”