The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019 (the Act) was recently enacted and came into effect in early April 2019. The purpose of the Act is to streamline the operation of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) and to ensure greater compliance with the process. In this article, we focus on what we see as being the four main changes introduced by the Act.
Time to consent to an assessment
An application is not deemed to be completed until the claimant’s application, their medical report, and the appropriate fee has been received by PIAB. PIAB will now only formally notify a respondent of a claim being taken against them when they receive the completed application.
If they receive an application that is not accompanied by a medical report and/or the application fee, they will only issue a preliminary notice to the respondent. The time afforded to the respondent to decide whether or not to consent to the assessment by PIAB does not start to run until the application process has been complied with.
The Act clarifies the limitation periods under the Statute of Limitations within the PIAB process where additional respondents are concerned.
The date that the Statute of Limitations stops running against each subsequent respondent is the date that individual respondent is added to the claim. Time does not begin to run again until six months after the date of issue of an authorisation.
This was previously an area of uncertainty.
Non-cooperation with PIAB
The Act introduces measures to deter non-compliance with the PIAB process. PIAB can carry out an assessment when:
the claimant fails to supply details of his/her claim for special damages
the claimant fails to attend a medical examination arranged by PIAB, or
the claimant has failed to assist or co-operate with retained experts
To incentivise compliance, the Act introduces potential cost implications if the claimant goes on to issue proceedings and has not fully cooperated with PIAB. The Court now has discretion to order the claimant to pay all or a portion of the respondent’s costs where it finds that a plaintiff was uncooperative with the PIAB process.
Book of Quantum
The Act provides that PIAB shall review and update the Book of Quantum every three years, or sooner if PIAB decides it is necessary.
The Act has the potential to be helpful from the point of view of respondents as it introduces measures which seek to increase compliance with the PIAB process. The fact that there may be cost implications for a claimant who fails to cooperate with the PIAB process is a very positive step, however, it remains to be seen whether the courts will actually use this power and whether it is enough to act as a deterrent to non-cooperation.
For more information on the PIAB process, contact a member of our Insurance and Risk team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.