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NAMA “Reform”

Conventionally, to propose a debate is to, impliedly, claim to be reasonable. Calling for a debate overlooks the fact that we cannot, and should not, submit everything to debate; where things are settled and agreed, they should not be opened to examination (and procrastination), unnecessarily. The call may be further invalid (and in bad faith), in not really proposing a debate, but simply using it as an announcement of intended, forced, change.
That’s the reality of the debate proposed by Colm McCarthy, the economist, on compensation for personal injuries.
He, in effect, is proposing to reduce that compensation. His proposal could be ignored if we did not know that he expresses the view of Brian Cowen, the Taoiseach; that is, he expresses the view of the Government.
This is valuable. As a consequence of knowing his connections, we have an insight into the Government’s view of NAMA. Mr. McCarthy has proposed that NAMA be used to process the payment of personal injuries compensation.
Currently, the Government has tunnel vision when it comes to money and payments; it wants to reduce it’s liability to pay them. Imagine our scepticism if Brian Cowen claimed, now, that he wished to be “fair” in proposing, or introducing, a new method of delivering compensation to injured persons. (Consequently, we have Mr. McCarthy flying the kite).
For a long time the Executive has undermined the constitutional principle that the violation of bodily integrity be vindicated.
a) It abolished the use of civil juries to determine liability and quantum in personal injury cases.
b) It has reduced the time within which an injured person must issue proceedings against a wrongdoer, before being statute barred and deprived of the right to be compensated.
c) It has imposed a cumbersome procedure on personal injury claimants by means of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (“PIAB”) (aka “the Injuries Board”).
d) It has attempted to block access of injured persons to experienced personal injury lawyers.
e) It has introduced intimidatory procedures for Plaintiffs in the personal injury litigation process.
In Ireland, as in the UK, we have formally addressed the necessary, process of reforming our laws.
We have a Law Reform Commission. We have a Committee on Court Practice and Procedure. We have a Constitution Review Group. We have an Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution.
In short, we are not lacking in mechanisms for correcting archaic legal elements.
Now, it seems, we have one, possibly two, more. They are Colm McCarthy, and NAMA.