To what extent are the assessments by legal academics who critiqued the Irish personal injury reforms (PIAB & related measures) defensible in light of the outcomes? A case study

Dowling, D. 2020. To what extent are the assessments by legal academics who critiqued the Irish personal injury reforms (PIAB & related measures) defensible in light of the outcomes? A case study. PhD thesis University of Westminster Westminster Law School

TitleTo what extent are the assessments by legal academics who critiqued the Irish personal injury reforms (PIAB & related measures) defensible in light of the outcomes? A case study
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsDowling, D.
Abstract

This dissertation supports the hypothesis that the current debate about ‘a compensation culture’ as against ‘a negligence culture’ is missing a third dimension of ‘professional regulatory culture’ that has not been accorded sufficient attention in the tort literature to date.

My original contribution to knowledge also demonstrates that many of the assertions by insurers that trends in premium rates for liability insurance are almost entirely driven by tort claims is largely a fallacy. The reason this is important is because there is often a ‘taken for granted view’ that the frequency of accidents causes claims which result in escalating insurance costs. That in turn can lead to calls for further tort reforms in many jurisdictions but the real mischief has not been properly identified, as revealed in this significant research.

Proposals in 2002 to reform the Irish compensation system for negligently inflicted personal injury provoked a flurry of concerns from academics. A number of reservations were raised about the potential for success and the risks to fairness for claimants. The majority professed a preference for the status quo but they were largely operating from an evidence free environment and many relied on little more than anecdotes from the legal professions. However, their analyses also provided a unique opportunity to identify what tort scholars considered to be the key markers of an optimal redress system.

To address those academic concerns the scope of this case study interrogated data for an entire nation, comprising of over 6.7 million claims with a value of €34bl and triangulated those trends with analyses of accident frequency as against insurance pricing and profitability over several decades. The role of the media in negative public perceptions of negligence law is also addressed.

These wide-ranging and robust statistical analyses make a substantial contribution to address a gap that it is acknowledged exists in the tort literature. While this thesis concludes that many of the academic concerns about the reforms were misplaced, it reveals that there are layers of interlocking relationships to which tort theory does not currently ascribe sufficient weight.

Year2020
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Published2020

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Under embargo until 01 Jan 2022
Under embargo until 01 Jan 2022
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