The introduction of the Injuries Board (formerly known as the Personal Injuries Assessment Board) by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 (the "2003 Act") changed dramatically the way personal injury claims are processed in Ireland. Prior to the 2003 Act, challenges to the personal injury legislation were few and mainly cosmetic. The 2003 Act, together with the Civil Liability and Courts Act, 2004, (the "2004 Act") which was brought into effect on the 20th September 2004, prevents claimants from issuing court proceedings in civil actions, save for certain exceptions, without an application having first been made to the Injuries Board to have their claim assessed. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2007 (the "2007 Act") increased the pressure on claimants to accept the Injuries Board awards and introduced cost penalties in the event of a claimant refusing an Injuries Board award and being awarded the same or less by the courts. There is one aspect though of the 2003 Act, limitation periods, where there is a lacuna in the law which has not been rectified by legislation.
Limitation Periods As Section 7 of the 2004 Act reduces the limitation period from three years to two years, this means that the time frame within which the Injuries Board has to deal with a claim is quite short. This could result in a situation where, if the Injuries Board did not deal with a claimant's assessment in a timely fashion, then that claim could become statute barred. It is for this reason that section 50 of the 2003 Act is of importance. Section 50 states:
"In reckoning any period of time for the purposes of any limitation period in relation to a relevant claim specified by the Statute of Limitations 1957 or the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Act 1991 , the period beginning on the making of an application under section 11 in relation to the claim and ending 6 months from the date of issue of an authorisation under, as appropriate, section 14 , 17, 32 or 36, rules under section 46 (3) or section 49 shall be disregarded."
The result of Section 50 is that once a claim is made to the Injuries Board the two year limitation period imposed by the Statute of Limitations 1957 or the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Act 1991 stops and does not recommence until six months after the authorisation has issued. An authorisation is the document allowing the claimant to bring court proceedings in respect of his or her claim.