Roisin Harper

2019 Quarter 1 update: Revised Green Book, DoJ Consultation & McKinty and Wright Office Move

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Revised ‘Green Book’ guidelines issued

 As of 25th February 2019, the 5th Edition of the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases in Northern Ireland, more commonly known as the Green Book,has been published by the  Judicial Studies Board for Northern Ireland. 

An online copy is available under ‘Publications’ at  https://judiciaryni.uk/

The Green Book was last updated 7 years ago, with the 4th Edition published 31st March 2013. There have been a number of judgments handed down by the Courts which have indicated that a revision of the Guidelines was on the cards. As one example, in McDowell v Fisons Limited [2017] NIQB 136 , the Greenbook Guidelines range for mesothelioma was adjusted upwards from £70,000 to £130,000 to between £77,000 and £140,000, an adjustment our industrial disease team has already been factoring into reserves.

Taking a look at the updated guidelines for lung disease, the following is an extract from our ready reckoner: -

Injury Description

 

4th Edition

 

5th Edition

Percentage Increase

 

From

To

From

To

(Average)

Pleural Plaques

-

-

£3,500.00

£17,500.00

-

Pleural thickening with functional impairment

£21,000

£42,000

£25,000

£50,000

19%

Minimal to mild asbestosis with at most slight impairment of function and quality of life.

£28,000

£50,000

£34,000

£60,000

21%

Moderate to severe asbestosis with considerable impairment of function and quality of life.

£40,000

£85,000

£50,000

£100,000

21%

Lung cancer or mesothelioma where death within a few years of trial is inevitable

£70,000

£130,000

£100,000

£200,000

48%

Occupational asthma with impairment of function and quality of life

£28,000

£58,000

£35,000

£70,000

23%

Aggravation of a pre-existing, constitutional Asthma

£14,000

£42,000

£17,000

£50,000

20%

Chronic Bronchitis or Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease

£7,000

£28,000

£15,000

£50,000

96%

Mild respiratory conditions, including mild bronchitis (usually resulting from unfit housing or similar exposure, particularly in cases of young children) treated by a general practitioner and resolving within a few months.

Up to

£7,500

Up to

£9,000

20%

It is worth noting that guidelines for pleural plaques are included, having been absent from the 4th edition, which was explained in the introduction to that edition as allowing for “judicial determination of the correct level of damages in relation to such claims consequent upon the passing of the [Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) Act (Northern Ireland)] 2011 Act”.

Additional commentary provided in respect of Pleural Plaques is as follows:-

“On their own, asymptomatic pleural plaques would justify an award in the region of £3,500. It is unlikely that any case of distress and anxiety caused by a diagnosis of pleural plaques, absent some evidence of grave psychiatric sequelae, will recover outside the bracket of £6,000 - £17,500 however long the stress or anxiety lingers on.”

In the updated Guidelines for neck injuries, including whiplash, interestingly, there is not as marked a change.

Again, the following is an extract from our ready reckoner: -

Injury Description

4th Edition

5th Edition

Percentage Increase

 

From

To

From

To

(Average)

Neck injury associated with incomplete paraplegia or resulting in permanent spastic quadriparesis or where despite the wearing of a collar 24 hours a day for a period of years, the neck could still not move and severe headaches have proved intractable

£120,000

£300,000

£145,000

£370,000

22%

Injury falling short of the disability in (a) above but being of considerable severity, e.g. permanent damage to the brachial plexus

£75,000

£150,000

£90,000

£180,000

20%

The injury is such as to cause severe damage to soft tissues and / or ruptured tendons and results in significant disability of a permanent nature.

£35,000

£105,000

£40,000

£130,000

19%

Injuries and fractures or dislocation causing severe immediate symptoms or necessitating spinal fusion leaving significantly impaired function or vulnerability to further trauma, pain and limitation of activities.

£42,000

£75,000

£50,000

£90,000

20%

Whiplash or wrenching-type injury and disc lesion of the more severe type, which may result in cervical spondylosis, serious limitation of movement, permanent or recurring pain, stiffness or discomfort, the potential need for further surgery or increased vulnerability to trauma

£24,000

£50,000

£30,000

£60,000

23%

Relatively minor injuries which may or may not have exacerbated or accelerated some pre-existing unrelated condition but with, in any event, a complete recovery within a few years. This bracket will also apply to moderate whiplash injuries where the period of recovery is fairly protracted and where there is an increased vulnerability to further trauma

£10,000

£25,000

£12,500

£30,000

23%

Minor soft tissue and whiplash injuries and the like where symptoms are moderate and full recovery takes place within, at most, two years

To

£12,000

Up to

£12,500

4%

Minor neck injuries including minor soft tissue injuries

(i) Where a full recovery takes place within a period of about one to two years. This bracket will also apply to short-term acceleration and/or exacerbation injuries, usually between one to two years.

£5,000

£12,500

Up to

£12,500

0%

Minor neck injuries including minor soft tissue injuries

(ii) Where a full recovery takes place within a period of several months and a year. This bracket will also apply to very short-term acceleration and/or exacerbation injuries, usually less than one year.

£3,000

£5,000

Up to

£5,000

0%

Minor neck injuries including minor soft tissue injuries

(iii) Where a full recovery is made within a period of a few days, a few weeks or a few months.

£500

£3,000

Up to

£3,000

0%

It is important to note the following from Lord Justice Stephens in the introduction to the 5th edition: -

“I emphasise, as have all previous Chairmen, that they are guidelines not to be applied mechanistically but rather with close attention to the characteristics and circumstances of the particular individual involved. At one end of the spectrum, particularly in relation to minor soft tissue injuries, an assessment of an individual’s credibility may result in awards, if any, considerably lower than the figures suggested recognising that expert medical evidence, which is only a part of the evidence, can be tempered or rejected. At the other end of the spectrum these figures can be exceeded. Emphatically these are only guidelines (as John MacDermott pointed out) to a ‘fair assessment by the Judge applying his training, experience and innate sense of fairness to the individual case which he is trying and which he will approach both sensibly and with sensitivity.’”

To request a full copy of our Green Book ready reckoner, please contact:

Roisin Harper, Associate

 

DoJ Consultation: Review Hearing Fees

Having closed 18th February 2019, the outcome of the Department of Justice consultation ‘Improving Cost Recovery in the Civil Courts’ is pending.

It will be one to watch, as amongst other proposals, it puts forward the introduction of a fee of £195 for a Review Hearing before a High Court Master and £261 for a Review Hearing before a High Court Judge.

McKinty and Wright’s Catriona McCorry, as current Northern Ireland Regional Representative to the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) was key to preparing a response to the consultation, highlighting that: -

“ultimately in a number of cases, cost increases will be borne by insurance companies, resulting in a direct impact on insurance premiums paid by the insured public in Northern Ireland.”

DoJ consultation material can be viewed online at https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/consultations/improving-cost-recovery-civil-courts

Further updates will follow as this matter develops.

To request additional information on this topic, please contact:

Catriona McCorry, Associate

 

McKinty and Wright Office Move

Over the past few years, there has been a flurry of renovation and rejuvenation of office space in Belfast City Centre and the time has come for 5-7 Upper Queen Street to have its face lift.  After nearly 40 years, McKinty and Wright will bid farewell to Eagle Star House on Friday 1st March 2019, heading to our new premises at Montgomery Street for business as usual from Monday 4th March 2019.

McKinty and Wright’s address from 4th March 2019:

7th Floor, Montgomery House

29-33 Montgomery Street

Belfast BT1 4NX

For queries in connection with our office move, please contact:

Sean McGahan, Partner

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