Patricia Byron, Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB)

Byron delivered a detailed rundown of the background behind the establishment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) in Ireland.

The Irish were faced by virtual "meltdown" in the system, caused largely by costs accounting for 46% of the total insurer spend on claims. "Premiums soared and many businesses started to close down."

The PIAB was set up as a statutory body with three key objectives:

  • Assessing the value of personal injury claims and ensuring victims receive the same level of compensation as they received under the old system
  • Reducing the cost of delivering compensation
  • Reducing time of delivery.
  • Since its inception, the PIAB has awarded a total of €23.5m (£16.2m) to claimants, with total costs of €1.8m (£1.24m). Byron said: "Under the old system, with the add-on cost of 46%, these would have cost €10.8m (£7.44m). So that is a €9m (£6.2m) actual banked saving."

    Byron added: "We have had dramatic turnaround in relation to the timelines [and] we are focused on our key objectives, turning claims around in nine months or less."

    She emphasised that the system is widely accepted by all parties in the process: "Almost 100% of our awards are accepted by responding parties, either the self-insured sector or the insured sector; 70% of our awards are accepted by claimants, and the vast majority of those have solicitors at the back of them."

    The PIAB has faced challenges in the High Court relating to solicitors' involvement. Byron was bullish on the legal profession's rightful role: "The only place that a solicitor can play in this equation is sending in application forms and medical report forms... but we feel that claimants are quite capable of sending in an application form and their own doctor's report."