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Question

455. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if it is permitted for an insurance company to pursue claimants or plaintiffs for their High Court and-or Court of Appeal costs even when the claim is successful; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24359/18]

456. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to situations in which insurance companies are refusing to pay for the certificate for senior counsel for the claimant or plaintiff in circumstances in which a case is settled in favour of the claimant; if there is a regulation or restriction preventing this from occurring; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24360/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 455 and 456 together.
As the Deputy may be aware, the determination of who is to pay costs in any given case is a matter for the presiding judge who is, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and the decision to pursue those costs is a matter for the parties to the proceedings.
In relation to payment for a Certificate for Senior Counsel, I note that the Deputy refers specifically to a Certificate for Senior Counsel in cases which are settled between parties and so, in the case of a settlement, the terms of same are agreed between the parties and the agreement to include a Certificate is therefore a matter for the parties involved.
Notwithstanding the above, the Cost of Insurance Working Group, chaired by Minister of State Michael D’Arcy TD, examined the issue of the discretion of the court to exercise in favour of the winning party - the ‘costs follow the event’ principle, as part of its examination of the cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance.
The Cost of Insurance Working Group believes that a consistent application of this key principle – recognising that it should remain a matter for the independent judiciary to be the key decision makers in this regard – would probably be one of the most effective ways of tackling fraud and exaggerated claims, as it would give insurers the confidence to challenge more robustly cases which they have doubts about and believes that such an approach should have no bearing or impact on plaintiffs who have a deserving case.
It is also of note that under Part 10 of the Legal Services Regulation Act of 2015 a new and much more transparent and client friendly legal costs regime is being rolled-out which will place strict obligations on legal practitioners in how they determine and communicate their fees. This will also be bolstered under the Act by the coming into operation later this year of the new Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicators that will determine disputed legal costs on foot of a set of Legal Costs Principles set out in Schedule One of that Act and will maintain a publicly accessible Register of its determinations. It is also to be noted that section 169 of the 2015 Act puts the general principle of ‘costs follow the event’ on a statutory footing and will also be commenced later this year.