injuries Board Ireland – interesting facts

At a recent briefing with the Irish Injuries Board, we were given some interesting information, by one of their solicitors, Suzanne Hill,:-

  • Motor injury claims account for 75% of total compensation awards
  • Public liability claims ( eg. fall on footpath, injury in supermarket etc.) is next at 17%
  • And injury compensation claims against employers is last at 8%

The amount of claims has increased in the last year, but this is being put down to more people at work and more people driving on the roads.

The average award by the Injuries Board has fallen from €23,166 in 2009 to €22,878 in 2015.

The lowest amount of claims per hundred of population is Kilkenny !

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EU Commission and Council recommend that Ireland invest in capital expenditure

The European Commission Country Specific Recommendations released last week highlight a worrying risk of critical under investment in Ireland’s economy.

Speaking last week on the recommendations, Ian Talbot, Chief Executive Chambers Ireland said, “Ireland has a growing population and an expanding economy, and needs significant capital investment to support this growth. The recommendations highlight a risk of a structural shift in the profile of Government expenditure, with much needed capital expenditure and investment being sacrificed for current expenditure. By necessity the Government was forced to reduce capital expenditure significantly during the crisis but we must now reverse this pattern as a matter of urgency and prioritise capital investment or we will jeopardise future growth prospects.

“Government must critically review their expenditure priorities and ensure that badly needed capital programmes in the areas of housing, transport, and water infrastructure are prioritised to ensure Ireland’s growth can continue.”

The Eu Council in it’s report, issued on 18th May 2016,recommended as follows =

HEREBY RECOMMENDS that Ireland take action in 2016 and 2017 to:

1. Following the correction of the excessive deficit, achieve an annual fiscal adjustment of 0.6 % of GDP towards the medium-term budgetary objective in 2016 and in 2017. Use windfall gains from strong economic and financial conditions, as well as from asset sales, to accelerate debt reduction. Reduce vulnerability to economic fluctuations and shocks, inter alia by broadening the tax base. Enhance the quality of expenditure, particularly by increasing cost-effectiveness of healthcare and by prioritising government capital expenditure in R&D and in public infrastructure, in particular transport, water services and housing.

2. Expand and accelerate the implementation of activation policies to increase the work intensity of households and address the poverty risk of children. Pursue measures to incentivise employment by tapering the withdrawal of benefits and supplementary payments. Improve the provision of quality, affordable full-time childcare.

3. Finalise durable restructuring solutions to lower non-performing loans, to ensure debt sustainability of households and to encourage lenders to reduce the debt of excessively leveraged yet viable businesses. Accelerate the phasing-in of a fully operational central credit registry covering all categories of lenders and debtors.

 

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Men 4 times more likely to commit suicide – Irish Times 24th May 2016

Today’s Irish Times has an interesting article on suicide, and it’s as follows =

“Men in the Republic of Ireland remain four times more likely to die by suicide than women, even though the male suicide rate has declined recently.

Publishing its suicide statistics report for 2016, the Samaritans suicide-prevention charity said the female suicide rate for the Republic increased by 14.7 per cent in the year 2013-2014, while the rate for men fell by 6.4 per cent.

It urged the new Government to take steps to reduce suicide. Estimates from the Central Statistics Office suggest that 459 people took their lives in the State in 2014, 368 men and 91 women.

Samaritans noted there was an increase in the overall suicide rate between the early 1980s and late 1990s, but it had been declining since then.

“After a period of fluctuation, the Republic of Ireland suicide rate has been decreasing since 2011. The overall suicide rate in the Republic of Ireland is at its lowest since 1993 and, between 2013 and 2014, there was a decrease of 3.3 per cent in the overall rate per 100,000.”

The male suicide rate hit a peak in 1998 and has decreased since then, with some fluctuations.

It is at its lowest since 1993, having decreased by 6.4 per cent between 2013 and 2014, the Samaritans said.

The female suicide rate has remained relatively stable during the 30-year period. Samaritans said the current rate was comparable to the rate in 1984, having increased by 14.7 per cent since 2013.

The highest overall rate of suicide is in the 50-54 age group. Men who die by suicide often fall into that age group, while women who take their own lives are more likely to be in the 25-29 age group.

Samaritans executive director for Ireland Catherine Brogan said each person who died by suicide left behind family and friends whose lives would never be the same again.

“Every single suicide is a tragedy,” she said. “Tackling suicide requires a wide range of agencies to work together, nationally and in communities, to give people the best chance to turn their lives around when they are struggling. Strong political oversight and leadership is required to ensure that the challenges we face in reducing suicide are overcome.”

The charity called on parties and elected representatives to make suicide reduction a priority by ensuring that Connecting for Life, the national strategy for suicide reduction, was implemented. It said ringfenced funding for suicide reduction must be maintained.

“We must all work together to encourage men and women to seek help before reaching a crisis point, so that they can access the support they need,” Ms Brogan said.

Getting help

She said everyone had a role to play in reducing suicide, and urged anyone struggling to take action and to visit a GP or contact the charity.

Samaritans may be contacted free from any phone on 116123 and the number will not appear on a phone bill. Its email is jo@samaritans.org. Information about local branches is at samaritans.ie.”

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Update on the Setanta case

The Supreme Court will hear the appeal by the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) of the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Law Society of Ireland v the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland.

As previously written in our blog, the case was initiated at the request of President Kearns, as the head of the Insurance Compensation Fund, in order to clarify whether or not the MIBI had liability for certain claims against Setanta Insurance policyholders following the insolvency of that company. Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal found in favour of the Law Society’s legal arguments, confirming that the MIBI’s liability under the 2009 MIBI Agreement extends to situations of insurer insolvency.

The Supreme Court may only hear an appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeal if it is satisfied that the decision involves a matter of general public importance or is required in the interests of justice. The Supreme Court determined that the MIBI appeal came within the former category. The appeal will address the following specific points:

  1. Whether the MIBI Agreement may properly be construed so as to impose liability or potential liability on insurance underwriters which are party to the MIBI Agreement to pay out in respect of claims against persons who were insured with Setanta, a Maltese registered insurance company, at the time of its entering into liquidation in April 2014.
  2. The correct principles to be applied in construing the MIBI agreement, whether it be a private agreement or an administrative arrangement between Government and the motor insurance industry, with particular reference to the influence of statutory provisions on the proper interpretation of the language thereof.
  3. If the MIBI is so liable, how any such liability or potential liability on the part of the MIBI impacts upon the power of the High Court to approve payments under section 3 of the Insurance Act 1964 (as inserted by section 4 of the Insurance (Amendment) Act 2011) authorising payments out of the Insurance Compensation Fund “only if it appears to the High Court that it is unlikely that the claims can be met otherwise than from the Fund.”

A date has yet to be fixed for the Appeal but it is hoped that an expedited date will be obtained in the coming months.

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Plans to give inheritance tax breaks to children

Tax changes promised in the Government programme for partnership will decrease or eliminate completely inheritance tax for thousands of people in the coming years.

Under the changes, once they are implemented, children inheriting the family home will not pay tax on the first €500,000 value of the estate, which should mean the majority of bequests will not prompt tax demands.

However, while the Government is planning to raise the threshold, it is not proposing to cut the 33 per cent tax rate applied to bequests over the threshold.This rate increased in 2009 from 20 per cent.

In the last budget, Minister for Finance increased the thresholds – which had fallen after the economic crisis broke in 2008 – from €225,000 to €280,000.

he concessions given in the last budget will cost the exchequer €30 million annually, though the latest measures will cost €75 million each year.

In its manifesto, Fine Gael said: “We will improve the tax treatment of gifts and inheritances from parents to young adults, by increasing the capital acquisitions group-A threshold to €500,000.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/plan-to-cut-or-scrap-inheritance-tax-for-thousands-1.2646126

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Did you know that Insurance industry are the greatest scammers of them all !!!

Well done to Kevin Courtney in the Irish Times on Saturday 9th May 2016, when he shredded the insurance industry representations on increasing motor premia. It looks as if the real dishonest people and the fraudsters are found within the ranks of the Insurance Companies, their PR teams and representatives.

Kevin says =

“While motor costs are going down around the world, here at home the cost of insuring your car has spiralled. According to the Central Statistics Office, the cost of car insurance rose by 32 per cent in the year to March.

Insurance companies blame an increase in the number of personal-injury claims brought to court, and a jump in the size of awards given out, but the Injuries Board has quoted CSO figures showing fewer claims going to court and only a small increase in the size of awards.

Insurers have also blamed underpricing by rivals, which they say forced them to cut their prices, in order to compete.

When Quinn Insurance entered the car-insurance marketplace, in 1990, it did so with all engines revving, aggressively driving down premiums. This spurred other insurers to follow Quinn down discount alley, and the result was happy days for male drivers under the age of 25, who until then had been paying very high premiums. But when the global economy crashed, Quinn Insurance ran into the ditch.

The recent rise in prices, say insurers, is simply the industry going back to more realistic rates.

Although the Government and regulators might be buying that line, some say the insurers’ explanation is straight out of a car repairman’s garage.

The real explanation, according to a briefing document prepared for Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe and obtained by The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, is that insurers are racing to get back to profitability after years of being forced by a competitive market to give car owners decent deals.

As safety technology powers forward, leading to fewer crashes and generally safer driving (or self-driving), we have been promised lower premiums – but, like those jet packs we were told about, we may be waiting a while yet. “

 

 

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New Tax Appeal process

Under the Finance (Tax Appeals) Act, 2015, which came into effect on 21 March 2016, the Tax Appeals Commission replaced the Office of the Appeal Commissioners.

Taxpayers who wish to appeal against a decision or determination of the Revenue Commissioners need to complete a Notice of Appeal form which is available on the Tax Appeals Commission website.

For assistance in completing the form, see the Guidance Notes.

The completed Notice of Appeal should be sent by post to Tax Appeals Commission, Fitzwilton House, Wilton Place, Dublin D02 FX04 or email info@taxappeals

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Now, where did I leave my spare Bible, Koran, Tanakh ?

Earlier this month, President of the High Court ,Kelly reiterated that a bible or other religious text appropriate to the deponent’s religious belief must be produced for the deponent when the oath is being administered. The absence of such a text cannot be overcome by allowing the deponent to affirm rather than swear the affidavit. Under current legislation (Oaths Act 1888), an affirmation is only appropriate where the deponent objects to being sworn and states:

“as the ground of such objection, either that he has no religious belief, or that the taking of an oath is contrary to his religious belief…”.

President Kelly emphasised the role of the oath and the importance of trust in the solicitors’ profession. In administering an oath, a solicitor is exercising his/her duty under statute and as an officer of the court.

Practising solicitors have the power to administer oaths (section 72 of Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994) and a bible or appropriate religious text should be available for this purpose.

72.(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, every solicitor who holds a practising certificate which is in force shall, subject to any condition to which that practising certificate is subject under the Solicitors Acts, 1954 to 1994 (in this section referred to as a “relevant condition”), have all the powers conferred by any enactment or statutory instrument (within the meaning of the Statutory Instruments Act, 1947 ) on a commissioner for oaths (including section 24 of the Stamp Duties Management Act, 1891) and any reference to such a commissioner in any such enactment or statutory instrument, whether passed or made before or after the commencement of this section, shall include a reference to such a solicitor, unless the context otherwise requires.
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Insurance companies blame compensation claims for rise in premium – are they being honest ?

In yesterday’s Irish Independent, Charlie Weston has questioned the recent claims by the insurance industry on the high levels of compensation as their reasons for increasing premia on policies. It’s a very thoughtful article and one the insurance industry could well take heed of.

Could it be said that they are being dishonest in their actions – behaviour they abhor when it comes to claims, yet suits them with their media spins.

Charlie says :-

“Official figures show the cost of premiums rose by 30pc in the last 12 months.

This means that a policy that had a premium of €500 on it last year now costs €650 to renew.

A family with two cars is paying an extra €300 a year in premiums.

Many of the State’s two million drivers are being hit with far higher hikes, especially if they have a claim on their policy, are a young driver, or have penalty points.

There have even been claims that the average cost of premiums could hit €1,000.

AIG, the world’s biggest insurer, said Ireland should consider banning such claims to avoid the average cost of premiums hitting €1,000.

Whiplash payouts account for up to 80pc of the volume of motor insurance claims in the Republic, compared with just 3pc in some other countries, according to AIG’s boss in Ireland, Declan O’Rourke.

Insurance companies are quick to blame our “compo culture” for the rise in the cost of premiums.

However, there are many reasons for the surge in the cost of car cover.

They include bad decisions made by insurers, new rules demanding that firms set more money aside in their reserves, poor regulation, more claims, and fraudulent personal injuries court cases.

All this means that ordinary drivers are being asked to carry an unacceptable burden.

Recently it emerged that the Central Bank has told insurers to raise premiums because they weren’t charging enough to cover claims costs and expenses.

All drivers are already paying a 2pc levy on their policies for the failures of the Quinn Insurance group, a combination of mismanagement by that company and poor regulatory oversight.

Six years later drivers are again paying up for the bad decisions of others.

The latest mess is the decision of the Court of Appeal that insurers pick up the tab for the collapse of Setanta Insurance, even though it was not regulated here.

Motor insurers are losing money because they made bad decisions about pricing and the level of reserves they have put aside for claims.

The industry engaged in below-cost selling and effectively blew itself up. It now wants honest drivers to bail it out for its calamitous decisions.

The situation is bad, but it is not inevitable that we will witness another year of monster premium rises.

There is some good news.

Aviva Ireland bucked the trend by making money in the general insurance market here last year.

It spotted three years ago that there was a problem with rising claims costs, and took action to raise its rates and aggressively to fight fraudulent and exaggerated claims.

The company made a profit of €40m last year in general insurance, which includes motor cover for private and commercial drivers and property insurance.

Profits were up 38.5pc when compared with the results for 2014.

And a number of personal injuries awards by the High Court have been halved by the Court of Appeal, with some criticism of the approach adopted by judges.

There have been a run of these reductions lately, experts said, in a sign that judges may be changing their approach to injuries awards.

Elevated court awards are a factor in the 30pc rise in motor insurance premiums, according to experts.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton has pressed judges to tackle the problem of hugely inflated insurance premiums by sticking to new guidelines on compensation claims.

Mr Bruton held a meeting with the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, in a bid to get judicial support for guidelines due to be published this summer.

All of this means that drivers need to ensure they do not just accept the word of insurers, brokers and regulators that motor cover rates have to keep rising to such an extent.

Drivers must challenge the elevated new premiums they are expected to pay and get a better deal by going to another insurer, or forcing their existing company to match a better offer they got elsewhere.

Enough is enough.”

Irish Independent

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UK consider Probate Court application fees based on value of the estate of the deceased person

The Ministry of Justice in the UK has a consultation paper out regarding fees for probate applications.

At present, applications for grants of probate are set at £155 when a grant of probate is sought by a solicitor and £215 when the application is made by an individual. This higher fee for ‘personal’ applicants reflects some of the additional administrative work that must be done by the Probate Service when dealing with applications made by individuals. Estates that require probate but are worth less than £5,000 do not have to pay a fee.

There are an average of 270,000 applications for a grant of probate each year in England and Wales, around 38% of which are made by individuals, and around 62% by solicitors.

Table 1: Proposed fee structure Value of estate (before inheritance tax)

Proposed Fee Up to £50,000 = £0

Exceeds £50,000 but does not exceed £300,000 = £300

Exceeds £300,000 but does not exceed £500,000 = £1,000

Exceeds £500,000 but does not exceed £1m = £4,000

Exceeds £1m but does not exceed £1.6m = £8,000

Exceeds £1.6m but does not exceed £2m = £12,000

Above £2m 0.4% £20,000

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