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The New Edition of the Northern Ireland Green Book – an Industrial Disease perspective


The Sixth Edition of the Judicial Studies Board (JSB) Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases in Northern Ireland has now been published and is in force from 8 April 2024. A separate newsflash has been issued by Keoghs with a broad overview.

However, the area of deafness and tinnitus has seen some considerable changes including separating the categories of deafness and tinnitus as they can be mutually exclusive. They were previously grouped together, and this reflects discrete awards being made for tinnitus arising from other causes as opposed to noise-induced hearing loss. I have previously commented on a recent award in the High Court for tinnitus without deafness. The guidelines state that where hearing loss and tinnitus arise from the same cause, allowance should be made to avoid overcompensation. No further guidance is provided, and I suspect this will become an initial source of discussion and negotiation until practices and agreements take time to bed in.

On the whole, valuations have risen around 25% with one notable exception. Severe hearing loss has seen a significant increase in the recommended awards with a 116% increase from the previous guideline figures for the same injuries. However, they do not represent the vast majority of deafness cases in this jurisdiction.

Lung disease-type cases have also seen an increase, mainly in the region of 25%. However, occupational asthma with impairment of function and quality of life has seen a 76% increase in the recommended awards. It should be noted that within the guidelines for pleural plaques, it is unlikely that any case of distress and anxiety caused by a diagnosis of pleural plaques, absent some grave psychiatric sequelae, will recover outside the bracket of £7,500–£22,000, however long the stress or anxiety lingers. There is potential for grave psychiatric sequelae to become an area of contention to increase valuations further and we are alive to this.

It should always be remembered that the important word used above is ‘guidelines’. I suspect there will be an initial flurry of plaintiff counsel and solicitors pitching their valuations at the higher end of each band. However, it remains our position that each case must be treated on its own merits and circumstances. While it may take some time for the negotiations and valuations to settle, clear patterns and trends will emerge. As ever, we will take every step to ensure cases are defended when they need to be defended and settled (for the correct figures) if they need to be settled. Our rigorous approach to pursuing discontinuances and seeking third-party audiograms will continue as well. Valuations have gone up, but we at Keoghs will continue to approach cases in our professional and effective manner.  

If you have any questions about the impact of the new Green Book on industrial disease claims in Northern Ireland, please get in touch.

Will Gibson - Lead Lawyer, Disease, Belfast

Email: wrgibson@keoghs.co.uk



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