Civil Liability Act 1961
F34 [ Award of damages by periodic payments
51I. (1) Subject to subsection (2) and section 51J , where a court awards damages for personal injuries to a plaintiff who has suffered a catastrophic injury, the court may order that the whole or part of such damages which relate to —
( a ) the future medical treatment of the plaintiff,
( b ) the future care of the plaintiff,
( c ) the provision of assistive technology or other aids and appliances associated with the medical treatment and care of the plaintiff, and
( d ) where the parties consent in writing, damages in respect of future loss of earnings,
be paid by a defendant in the proceedings concerned in the form of periodic payments to the plaintiff in such amounts as the court may determine (in this Part referred to as a ‘ periodic payments order ’ ).
(2) In deciding whether or not to make a periodic payments order, a court shall have regard to —
( a ) the best interests of the plaintiff, and
( b ) the circumstances of the case, including:
(i) the nature of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff; and
(ii) the form of award that would, in the court ’ s view, best meet the needs of the plaintiff having regard to —
(I) the amount of any payments proposed to be made to the plaintiff,
(II) whether the court has made an order in the proceedings concerned expressed to be one of an interim nature with respect to the payment of damages to the plaintiff, and where such an order has been made, the amount of such damages,
(III) the form of award preferred by the plaintiff and the reasons for that preference,
(IV) any financial advice received by the plaintiff in respect of the form of the award, and
(V) the form of award preferred by the defendant and the reasons for that preference.
(3) Where the parties to an action to which this Part applies agree to the payment of damages wholly or partly by way of periodic payments to the plaintiff in relation to any matter referred to in paragraphs (a) , (b) , (c) and (d) of subsection (1) —
( a ) the parties may apply to the court for a periodic payments order in accordance with the terms which have been agreed by the parties, and
( b ) the court may, subject to subsection (2) —
(i) make a periodic payments order in accordance with the terms which have been agreed by the parties,
(ii) refuse the application, or
(iii) refuse the application and make a periodic payments order under subsection (1) .
(4) Where it is anticipated that there will be changes in a plaintiff ’ s circumstances during his or her life which are likely to have an effect on his or her needs, a court may make provision in a periodic payments order that a payment under the order shall, from a specified date, increase or decrease by a specified amount (in this Part referred to as a ‘ stepped payment ’ ).
(5) The changes in circumstances which may form the basis of a stepped payment include:
( a ) a plaintiff reaching 18 years of age;
( b ) a plaintiff entering primary or secondary school;
( c ) a plaintiff entering third level education; and
( d ) anticipated changes in the care needs of a plaintiff, including a requirement that the plaintiff move into residential care.
(6) Where a court makes a periodic payments order under this section, the order shall specify —
( a ) the annual amount awarded to the plaintiff,
( b ) the frequency of the payments that are to be made to the plaintiff from the annual amount by the paying party,
( c ) the amount awarded for damages in respect of the matters referred to in paragraphs (a) , (b) and (c) of subsection (1) ,
( d ) where, further to subsection (1)(d) , the periodic payments order includes damages in respect of future loss of earnings by the plaintiff, the amount awarded for such loss of earnings,
( e ) the method by which payments are to be made by the paying party to the plaintiff,
( f ) that the payments under the order are to be made to the plaintiff during his or her lifetime,
( g ) that the annual amount awarded to the plaintiff will be adjusted in accordance with the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices as published by the Central Statistics Office or such other index as may be specified by the Minister under section 51L ,
( h ) where a stepped payment is provided for —
(i) the change in circumstances on which an increase or decrease in the amount of a payment (referred to subsequently in this paragraph as ‘ the relevant increase or decrease ’ ) is based,
(ii) the date on which the relevant increase or decrease shall take effect,
(iii) the amount of the relevant increase or decrease at current value, and
(iv) that the amount of the relevant increase or decrease shall, on the date that it takes effect, be applied to the annual amount awarded to the plaintiff as adjusted in accordance with the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices as published by the Central Statistics Office or such other index as may be specified by the Minister under section 51L ,
(i) any other matter that the court considers appropriate.
(7) Where —
( a ) a court provides in a periodic payments order for a stepped payment, and
( b ) prior to the date that the stepped payment is due to take effect, it is evident to the plaintiff that the anticipated change in the plaintiff ’ s circumstances on which that stepped payment was based will not arise,
the plaintiff shall, as soon as practicable and not later than 10 working days before the date on which the stepped payment is due to take effect, notify the court that made the periodic payments order and the paying party in writing that the anticipated change in the plaintiff ’ s circumstances which formed the basis for the stepped payment concerned will not arise.
(8) Where a court receives a notification under subsection (7) from a plaintiff in relation to a stepped payment specified in a periodic payments order, the court shall amend the periodic payments order concerned by making such adjustments to the order as it considers appropriate.
(9) Where a periodic payments order is amended under subsection (8) , the court shall cause a copy of the order as amended to be sent to the plaintiff and the paying party. ]