Campaigning lawyers representing people with catastrophic injuries have begun a legal challenge against the Department of Justice (DoJ).
“People who suffer life-changing injuries are treated especially unfairly in Northern Ireland when compared with the rest of the UK, because the DoJ has failed to act on how compensation to meet their life-long needs is calculated,” said Oonagh McClure, Northern Ireland spokesperson for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
“People with life-long, life-changing injuries receive large lump sums, which they then invest. How much compensation injured people obtain is determined very carefully, so that they do not get any more than they need,” explained Ms McClure.
“But the way in which the calculation is made in Northern Ireland has not changed since 2001, when the investment markets looked very different. It means that injured people have been taking bigger and bigger risks when investing their compensation to try to make it stretch for the rest of their lives.”
“For years, APIL has been writing to, meeting with, and reminding civil servants and the Department for Justice that it is not right that severely injured claimants in the jurisdiction remain disadvantaged and significantly undercompensated,” said Ms McClure.
“A decision was made in October not to make any changes to the calculation of compensation in Northern Ireland until a new framework is devised - which won’t happen until the end of next year at the earliest.
“The situation is appalling,” she went on. “Compensation is substantially out of line with the rest of the United Kingdom, to the detriment of injured people in Northern Ireland and is in urgent need of review and realignment with the market.
“APIL has sent a formal letter to the Northern Ireland Department of Justice with a view to making an application for a judicial review of the decision announced in October should it remain unchanged,” Ms McClure confirmed.