Comparison between JSB Guidelines from March 2013 and new JSB guidelines published February 2019

26 February 2019

Author: John McCloskey


The updated JSB Guidelines for the assessment of general damages in personal injury cases in Northern Ireland were published this week and are effective immediately. As a general rule, general damages have gone up approximately 20% for most injuries but we have completed a more detailed comparison of the new guidelines compared to the old guidelines. Stephens LJ has pointed out in his introduction to the guidelines that they have been calculated on the basis of the Retail Price Index (RPI) in 2 ½ years time. In the previous edition, the guidelines were calculated on the basis of the RPI at the date of publication and it was intended that the figures recommended would be adjusted as time went on. It was the experience of the committee preparing these guidelines that this did not happen so in the new guidelines the figures should be applicable for the next 5 year period until updated guidelines are published.

Some of the notable exceptions to the 20% increase include the guidelines to relation to chest diseases. In particular, the guidelines for fatal mesothelioma and bronchitis and chronic obstructive airways disease recommend more than a 50% increase in respect of the awards for general damages. Pleural plaques have also been included in the updated guidelines for the first time. The range is £3,500 to £17,500 and there seems to be particular emphasis that awards should not exceed £17,500 irrespective of the duration of the Plaintiff’s stress and anxiety.

Interestingly, the guidelines for minor soft tissue injuries to the neck and back (to include whiplash type injuries) have not changed. This has resulted in neck injuries with a recovery period of up to 2 years being valued the same as the previous guidelines. With regard to back injuries, the guidelines for injuries with recovery within a couple of months remains unchanged at up to £4,000, but the recommended damages for back injuries of any greater severity than a couple of months have been increased.

As per the last edition, the section for injuries resulting in death does not contain a recommended range. For injuries which result in immediate unconsciousness and death within a couple of weeks without any suffering, the recommended figure has risen from £10,000 to £12,000. Outside of that, the guidelines remain largely unchanged with reference given to the nature and extent of the Plaintiff’s injury together with the degree and amount of suffering. We would expect that Plaintiff’s representatives will argue for a 20% increase on what they have previously requested given that this seems to be the general rule throughout the guidelines.

In any event, we have completed a detailed comparison between the March 2013 and February 2019 guidelines which is linked to this article. The full guidelines are available at:

If you have any questions about this please do not hesitate to contact John McCloskey or another member of the Defence Insurance litigation team at Carson McDowell.