The Oireachtas Business Committee has allowed the Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill 2019 to skip pre-legislative scrutiny. It means that the Fianna Fáil Bill can now go straight to Committee Stage in the Dáil.
Commenting, Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo, Dara Calleary, said, “This Bill is an important piece of legislation that needs to be enacted as soon as possible. Insurance fraud is a major problem in County Mayo which is pushing up the cost of insurance for everyone in the area.
“Almost every week across Mayo businesses, local marts, fairs, community clubs, and other festivals up and down the county are being put under enormous pressure due to massive increases in their insurance costs. Among the main reasons for this is insurance fraud.
“For people perpetrating insurance fraud, there seems to be no downside or deterrent. Currently, the worst that can happen is that the case is simply thrown out. Of course, the defendant is often stuck with large legal expenses defending themselves against a fraudulent claim.
“There needs to be tough penalties for those who give fraudulent evidence in court. This Fianna Fáil Bill will ensure that those who bring fraudulent claims will have to pay the legal expenses for the defendant. While it is in the remit of the courts to award legal costs, it does not necessarily mean that this happens in reality. The Bill also increases the fine that a District Court can hand out to €5,000.
“I am encouraged that the government has supported our Bill and I look forward to working with all parties as the legislation proceeds through the Oireachtas. The Government really needs to up its game when it comes to insurance reform. We need to see the Judicial Council Bill enacted before the summer recess as promised.
“We desperately need a dedicated Garda unit to tackle insurance fraud but there is no sign of this happening. I have repeatedly stood in the Dáil and described the plight of many constituents who businesses have gone under as a consequence of fraudulent insurance costs.
“The National Claims Information Database was supposed to be up and running last summer yet it still is nowhere to be seen. The Personal Injuries Commission made its recommendations last July, yet no progress has been made,” concluded Deputy Calleary.