In the High Court case of P.R. v K.C.  IEHC 126 (High Court, Baker J, 11 March 2014) the Court ruled, as a preliminary issue, that an Authorisation pursuant to statute, normally required from the Injuries Board before Civil Claims for Personal Injuries can proceed through the Courts, was not required in the proceedings in question on the grounds that the substance of the action was not for personal injuries but was an action seeking to vindicate the plaintiff’s personal and constitutional right to bodily integrity.
The Court was requested to rule on a Preliminary issue as to whether the proceedings were barred by virtue of section 12(1) of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 (the “PIAB Act”)because the plaintiff had not sought and obtained prior Authorisation pursuant to the Act and whether a claim for damages arising for an assault was covered by the PIAB Act 2003.
The Plaintiff claimed damages arising from alleged negligence, breach of statutory duty, assault, battery and breach of his constitutional right to bodily integrity. The court ruled that it should look to the substance of the claim and not to the pleadings. The issue was whether the civil action commenced by this plaintiff was in substance a civil action for personal injuries or whether it was in reality an action for trespass to the person and assault or civil action for personal injuries.
The Court`s Decision
The Judge considered the nature of a claim for trespass to the person and assault and stated:
“In the circumstances I conclude that the substance of the action commenced by this plaintiff is not a civil action for personal injuries. It is an action by which the plaintiff seeks to vindicate his personal and constitutional right to bodily integrity and the person, as explained by Hogan J. in F.H & Ors. v. Staunton & Ors.  IEHC 533. It is accordingly an action which is founded in a tort which is actionable per se and without proof of actual damage or injury. This plaintiff has pleaded the case in the alternative, in the first place pleading the essence of tort of trespass to the person and then going on to plead the alleged consequences of such trespass in the form of physical injury and emotional suffering. As the plea in substance is a plea for damages for the tort of trespass to the person, it is one which does not as a matter of law require the plaintiff to establish personal injury. Furthermore, the plaintiffs claim is excluded from the operation of the Act of 2003 by s. 4(1)(iii), being an action for breach of the plaintiffs constitutional rights and not one ancillary to the claim for trespass to the person.”
In reality, Proceedings for Assault involve a Claim for compensation for Personal Injuries.
This case is important in that it confirms that, not only was an Authorization from the Injuries Board not required for the issue of Proceedings for Assault, but that such Proceedings can be issued by way of Plenary Summons, rather than the detailed Personal Injuries Summons required under the Civil liability and Courts Act 2004. The relevance of this is that, unlike the position set down by the Civil Liability Act 2004 for Proceedings issued by Personal Injuries Summons, where the Claim must be issued within 2 years before it becomes statute-barred, an Action for Assault may be issued 3 years after the event.
Morgan McManus solicitors practise in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Whether your Claim arises in Counties Monaghan, Cavan, Fermanagh or Tyrone contact Brian Morgan for further advice at 0035347 51011