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Reformed Duty Of Care Legislation Key Element Of Insurance Reform.

  • Updated Duty of Care legislation will rebalance responsibility between businesses, community groups and organisers of events, and visitors, recreational users and trespassers.
  • Another key reform delivered as part of Government’s Insurance Reform Plan.
  • Important step in efforts to make insurance cheaper and more accessible.

Minister for Justice Mrs Helen McEntee has, today, commenced legislation which amends the Occupiers Liability Act, 1995.

These amendments update our duty of care legislation, striking the right balance between ensuring that businesses, community groups and organisers of events fulfil their duty of care responsibilities, while acknowledging the importance of personal responsibility of visitors, recreational users and trespassers.

These legislative updates contribute to the ongoing work on Insurance Reform, one of this Government’s key priorities.

The amendments, building on a Review Paper prepared by the Department of Justice in February 2021, contain four key developments:

  • They will reflect in primary legislation a number of recent court decisions which rebalance the duty of care owed by occupiers to visitors and recreational users;
  • They change the standard to clarify that when the occupier of a property has acted with reckless disregard for a recreational user or trespasser, the standard of reckless disregard rather than that of reasonable grounds should apply in relation to any consideration of liability;
  • They limit the circumstances in which a court can impose liability on the occupier of a premises where a person has entered onto premises for the purpose of committing an offence;
  • They allow for a broader circumstance where it can be shown that a visitor or recreational user has voluntarily assumed a risk.

On the commencement of the legislation, Minister McEntee said: “Insurance reform is very much a whole-of-Government effort and I’m pleased to progress these important changes as part of that programme of reform.
Of the 66 actions contained in the ‘Action plan on Insurance Reform’ my Department has responsibility or part responsibility for 34 of these actions.
One of these actions was to update our duty of care legislation. Commenced today, these changes strike the right balance between ensuring that businesses, community groups and organisers of events fulfil their duty of care responsibilities, while acknowledging the importance of personal responsibility of visitors, recreational users and trespassers.
The commencement of this legislation marks an important step in our efforts to make insurance more available and cheaper.”

Other completed actions which the Department of Justice is responsible for include the introduction of Personal Injury Guidelines and increased coordination and cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the insurance industry.

A review of how the discount rate, used to determine the size of an award to compensate a person for damages, should be set has also been completed. Work is at an advanced stage to set the appropriate rate and Minister McEntee expects this to be in place later this year.

Minister McEntee added: “The introduction of the Personal Injuries Guidelines has led to lower payouts for minor injuries and will speed up and reduce the costs of insurance cases.
The establishment of the Insurance Fraud Coordination Office, opened by An Garda Síochána last year, will play a key role in dealing with cases of insurance fraud.
As a Government, we will continue to review developments in the insurance sector, monitor price developments and continue to engage with stakeholders to resolve issues in the market.”

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