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19 June 2024

Compulsory Court Approval of Minor Settlements

Compulsory Court approval of Minor Settlements was a recommendation from the Gillen Review of Civil Justice published in 2017. 

Recommendation 34 –

Legislation be taken forward to compel the requirement for court approval for all legal cases involving a settlement or award of damages to minors” .  

The Department of Justice conducted a Consultation in 2021 on this issue and the majority of consultees were in support of legislation being introduced, including the Law Society.   The Minister of Justice indicted her support for legislative intervention on this issue.

The Department of Justice commenced development of legislation and looked in particular at how a statutory duty to enforce court approval might be enforced. The Society has been informed that the latter work has highlighted a number of significant legislative and practical complexities. Such complexities include a perceived unfair imposition on the parent of an injured child to seek court approval as they would be subject to a sanction for non-compliance, resource cost to monitor and enforce compliance, how to identify unapproved settlements and which authority should take enforcement action.

It is very unfortunate that as a result of the above complexities being identified by the Department of Justice, that the Minister has announced that she will not bring forward legislation for mandatory court approval of compensation settlements for children, in this mandate. The Minister has stated that she reached this conclusion having considered the lack of evidence of harm to children in practice, the extent to which it is appropriate for the state to intervene in private legal matters and family life, and the lack of a clear, feasible and proportionate enforcement mechanism.

The Law Society supports court approval for all minor settlements and will urge the Justice Minister to find solutions to the complexities identified so that legislation may be approved as soon as possible.


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