In a judgement delivered by the Supreme Court on the 30th of July 2014 in a case entitled Clarke V O’Gorman the Supreme Court has decided that the failure by a Plaintiff in a personal injuries action to obtain an Authorisation from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (InjuriesBoard.ie) is not fatal to her claim and does not disallow this Plaintiff from maintaining her legal action against a Defendant.
The Supreme Court were dealing with an appeal from a decision of the High Court which struck out the Plaintiffs claim for want of jurisdiction.
The Plaintiffs claim was for damages for assault including sexual assault, battery, false imprisonment, physical and/or sexual abuse and emotional abuse and damages for negligence and breach of constitutional rights.
When the case came on for trial in the High Court the Defendants Counsel applied to have the case dismissed. The reason for the application was the Defendants argued that the matter was a civil action within the meaning of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 and that the plaintiff had not complied with Section 11 of that act in that the matter had not been referred to the Board and therefore the proceedings had not been authorised by the board.
Judge O’Donnell gave the judgement of the Supreme Court and decided that the trial judge in the High Court was wrong to dismiss the Plaintiffs claim. He said the failure by the Defendants at any time during the process of the pleadings in the case to raise an issue about the lack of an Authorisation was significant. He held that since it was not a jurisdictional matter it could only be raised if it was pleaded and therefore relevant to the issue within the parties. There was no basis to hear the application to dismiss the case in the High Court. He allowed the appeal and set aside the order of the High Court.
Speaking about this Supreme Court judgement Liam Moloney Personal Injuries Solicitor said today ‘this is an extremely important decision of the courts with regard to the role of the InjuriesBoard.ie. It shows that a court will retain in some circumstances jurisdiction to hear and determine personal injury claims even if an Injuries Board Authorisation has not been obtained. However, it is important to make sure personal injuries claims that are required to be referred to the Injuries Board should be done so within two years of the date of an accident but even if an authorisation is not obtained in some cases personal injury actions will be allowed to continue.’