Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, has increased to €35,000 the maximum amount that can be awarded for mental distress to dependants of someone who has been fatally injured. Compensation for mental distress, also called ‘solatium’, had been set at ₤20,000 since 1996.
Announcing the increase, Minister Shatter said, ‘The amount of compensation for mental distress that can be paid to dependants of someone who has been fatally injured has remained unchanged since 1996. While money cannot compensate for the loss of a loved one, it is important that recognition be given to the significant loss that families have suffered. The new increased limit of €35,000 restores the value of the payment and takes account of the significant increases in the cost of living since 1996.’
12 January 2013
Note for Editors
The Civil Liability Act 1961 provides for a payment called solatium to be made to dependants of a deceased person for mental distress in fatal personal injuries actions. The solatium awarded is intended to be an acknowledgement of grief rather than an attempted compensation for it.
Section 49(1A) of the Civil Liability Act 1961, as inserted by Section 2(1)(a) of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 1996, set the upper limit for the compensation at £20,000. Section 49(1A)(b) of the Civil Liability Act 1961, as inserted by Section 2(1)(b) of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 1996, allows the Minister for Justice and Equality to change the limit by Ministerial Order. The Ministerial Order made increases the upper limit of compensation to €35,000. The sum is divided, at the discretion of the courts, among dependants. Section 49(1A)(b) of the Civil Liability Act 1961, as inserted by Section 2(1)(b) of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 1996, stipulates that the amount set out in the Ministerial Order shall have effect in relation to any cause of action that accrues while the Order is in effect (i.e. the new limit will apply to dependants of those who are fatally injured from 11 January onwards and will not apply to existing cases before the courts).