Consultants call for 'no lawyer' tribunal

A personal injuries tribunal that will operate without lawyers is to be established in Ireland in an effort to cut the cost of insurance claims.

Its aim will be to deal with compensation cases arising from motoring and workplace accidents in which liability is not disputed, and where both parties have agreed to adjudication. No legal representation will be necessary, though both sides will have the right to appeal any decision in the courts.

The tribunal is one of the recommendations in a report prepared by consultants Deloitte and Touche on cutting Ireland's spiralling insurance fees.

The study found that legal costs were a significant factor in personal injury claims and were excessive in cases involving claims under £20,000. The consultants forecast that if the proposed tribunal processed all personal injury claims where defendant and plaintiff were agreeable, including those arising from motor accidents, the saving could be £50m a year.

The consultants also recommended that Irish judges be asked to draw up guidelines on the amount of general damages to award in personal injury cases. These guidelines could then be used as the basis for decisions by the new tribunal, which would be chaired by a person who was experienced in health and safety.

The report dismissed complaints that a spate of “no foal, no fee” advertisements by Irish lawyers had increased the number of liability claims. Employers had argued that what they described as “touting for business” added to the number of speculative claims.