Ministers McEntee and Troy introduce new Scheme for Garda Compensation Claims
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, and the Minister of State with responsibility for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy TD, have today published the Garda Síochána (Compensation) Bill 2021.
The Bill will bring Garda compensation claims within the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) process. This will benefit both claimants, in terms of quicker resolution of claims with an objective assessment of quantum, and the State as the respondent, in terms of lower legal and administrative costs.
The publication of the Bill meets a commitment in Minister McEntee’s Justice Plan 2021. Justice Plan 2021 also commits to beginning work on the new Garda Compensation Scheme by the end of the year.
Minister McEntee said:
“It is unfortunately part of the nature of policing that Gardaí can suffer a range of injuries while carrying out their operational duties. It has been clear for some time that the existing Garda Compensation scheme needs to be replaced with a more efficient process. The current scheme, whereby all cases must go to the High Court, is liable to delays and high legal costs, and lacks facilities to settle claims in an efficient manner.
“The involvement of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board will lead to greater consistency in the level of compensation awards, since PIAB will be guided by our new Personal Injuries Guidelines which take effect this weekend.
“The new Garda Compensation Scheme will lead to greater efficiencies and savings for the Chief State Solicitor’s Office, which will no longer be the primary manager of Garda compensation claims.
“The new scheme will also lead to savings and efficiencies in the courts as Garda compensation claims made to the courts should reduce over time, depending on the level of acceptance by claimants of PIAB assessments and the ability of the State Claims Agency to negotiate settlements before cases actually proceed in court.”
Currently, Gardaí who sustain injuries maliciously inflicted upon them in the performance of their duties are entitled to apply for an authorisation from the Department of Justice to seek compensation in the High Court in accordance with the Garda Síochána (Compensation) Acts 1941 and 1945.
The new Scheme devolves responsibility for matters relating to Garda compensation from the Minister to the Garda Commissioner with the added provision that the State Claims Agency will manage claims on behalf of the Garda Commissioner once they are authorised by him or her. In addition, PIAB will assess quantum in Garda compensation cases under the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 by reference to the Personal Injuries Guidelines, which will come into effect this Saturday, 24 April. The Courts will not be involved in Garda compensation claims in the first instance.
Minister Troy said:
“Bringing Garda compensations claims within the PIAB process is consistent with ongoing work by my department to facilitate more personal injury cases being resolved by PIAB in a faster timeframe and with lower costs.
“It should allow Garda Síochána members who have suffered as a result of a malicious injury, or for their families where the injury has been fatal, to benefit from a quicker resolution of their claim. It should also benefit the State in terms of lower legal and administrative costs.
“The government’s commitment to enhance and reform PIAB, work which I am currently undertaking, will also bring benefits to the management of Garda compensation claims.”
The intention is that the new Scheme, once enacted, will significantly reduce the legal and administrative costs associated with Garda compensation claims.
It is also envisaged that:
- there will be significant time savings for applicants. It can take up to 7 years for cases to be concluded under the current arrangements whereas, for example, PIAB is required to make an assessment of quantum within 9 months
- the significant backlogs on the High Court compensation lists (between 3 to 4 years) will no longer arise in all cases
- legal representation will not be required for the PIAB assessment process
- not all cases proceeding to court will, in fact, proceed to the High Court leading to lower levels of legal costs
- provisions relating to the award of legal costs that apply to ordinary personal injuries actions will now apply to Garda compensation claims
Key Features of This Bill:
- Bill provides for a new compensation scheme to repeal and replace the current expensive and slow approach
- under the new scheme, a Garda who claims he or she has been maliciously injured will make a claim to the Garda Commissioner
- application will be referred to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) for an assessment of compensation
- awards will be guided by the Personal Injury Guidelines which take effect this weekend