IRL Developments re cap on General Damages


In Sinnott .v. Quinnsworth Limited [1984] ILRN 523 the Supreme Court in Ireland indicated that when approaching general damages for catastrophic injuries the Court should bear in mind that “A limit must exist, and should be sought and recognised, having regard to the facts of each case and the social conditions which pertain in our society”.

The Court in the Sinnott condemned a Jury award of IR£800.000.00 Punts that the plaintiff had been rendered quadriplegic. General damages had been amended from IR£800,000.00 Punts to IE£150,000.00 Punts.

That was in 1984 and was considered to be an appropriate limit or cap.

In the case of McEneaney .v. Monaghan County Council [2001] IEHC 14 the Court raised the so call cap and was of the view that a new yard stick for general damages in such cases was €300,000.00 although the Court did observe that in this regard it might be erring on the side of conservatism.

In the case of N .v. M which involved sexual assault over an extended period culminating in rape a Jury in the High Court awarded €600.000.00, reduced by the Supreme Court to a lessor sum of €350,000.00 (2005 case).

The Court in N .v. M went to great lengths to examine the factors which must be taken into consideration when dealing with such an award in a catastrophic injury case.

In Myles .v. McQuillan [2007] IEHC 333 the Court held that in assessing general damage in a catastrophic injury case the Court must consider the full award on a global basis taking into account any additional awards of damages (special damages). In that case the Court awarded €125,000.00 for general damages in amongst the total award of €502,700.00 for damages.

A recent decision in the High Court in Yun .v. MIBI and Others is interesting. It involved a road traffic collision where the plaintiff sustained catastrophic personal injuries. The High Court was asked to assess the damages. Quirke J observed that the Courts suggested limit in general damages might more accurately be described as a “guide” rather than an “cap” and further that general damages awards should reflect economical realities. Whilst that might appear to suggest that a sealing be placed in times of economic difficulty it is important to note that the Judge immediately qualified the point by emphasising the importance of life expectancy as a factor to be considered. The Court awarded a figure of €450,000.00 for general damages.