NI: Personal injury lawyers announce legal action over discount rate

NI: Personal injury lawyers announce legal action over discount rate

Oonagh McClure

Personal injury lawyers have launched legal action against Northern Ireland’s Department of Justice (DOJ) over its decision not to set an interim personal injury discount rate pending legislation to introduce a new mechanism for setting the rate.

The Department ran a consultation this summer on how the discount rate or “real rate of return”, used by the courts to determine the size of personal injury awards, should be set.

Department officials confirmed in October that they will seek to pass legislation early next year to deliver a new legal framework for setting the discount rate and will not set an interim rate in the meantime.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has now said it plans to make an application for a judicial review of the decision.

Oonagh McClure, APIL’s Northern Ireland spokesperson, said the discount rate not having been updated since 2001 “means that injured people have been taking bigger and bigger risks when investing their compensation to try to make it stretch for the rest of their lives”.

She added: “For years, APIL has been writing to, meeting with, and reminding civil servants and the Department for Justice that it is not right that severely injured claimants in the jurisdiction remain disadvantaged and significantly undercompensated.

“A decision was made in October not to make any changes to the calculation of compensation in Northern Ireland until a new framework is devised – which won’t happen until the end of next year at the earliest.

“The situation is appalling. Compensation is substantially out of line with the rest of the United Kingdom, to the detriment of injured people in Northern Ireland and is in urgent need of review and realignment with the market.

“APIL has sent a formal letter to the Northern Ireland Department of Justice with a view to making an application for a judicial review of the decision announced in October should it remain unchanged.”

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