The High Court has dismissed a challenge to the application of the new Personal Injuries Guidelines to a woman’s claim for compensation in the case of Delaney v. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board and Ors.  IEHC 321.
Ms Delaney claimed her injury, which, she was advised, would have previously attracted damages ranging between €18,000 and €34,000, was only assessed at €3,000 by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) under the new Guidelines.
Central to the case was a vote taken in March 2021 by the Judicial Council, the body made up of all the State’s judges, to adopt the new guidelines.
In her judicial review proceedings, Ms Delaney had sought orders quashing the assessment PIAB made in respect of her claim and quashing the Judicial Council’s decision in March 2020 to adopt the new personal injuries guidelines. She sought to challenge the legal basis for the drawing up and passing of the guidelines, and also maintained that PIAB erred in law in assessing the value of her injuries under the guidelines, and not the Book of Quantum.
Mr Justice Charles Meenan rejected all grounds of the challenge, including claims that the new guidelines were unconstitutional and amounted to an encroachment on judicial independence. He also found that PIAB had acted in accordance with the relevant provisions of the 2003 PIAB Act when it assessed her personal injuries claim. He further provided that the applicant’s constitutional rights of property, bodily integrity, and equality did not equate to a right to a particular sum of damages but, rather, a right to have her damages assessed in accordance with well-established legal principles.
The court determined that the Guidelines were valid as a matter of law, that the reduction of awards in the guidelines was a result of the committee applying the provision of the Judicial Council Act 2019, and it was held that PIAB correctly applied the Guidelines to the applicant’s case. The application for relief was refused, and this decision is likely to provide greater clarity on the application of the guidelines going forward.