Republic of Ireland Law
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1. Dear *****, the first two things you need to realise is that firstly, if this gentleman who hurt his thumb, like Tom Thumb, the mythical cartoon figure, is that they must prove 'fault' to succeed in a claim for personal injury against you. Secondly, the succeed on the basis of your product, they must show it is 'defective' under the Product liability Directive. So, you need to realise that this gentleman has an uphill struggle showing either of these two requirements when he was at a wedding and there was drink involved. PIAB is only for cases where liability is admitted. Where, as here, liability will be in issue, the case will go to a hearing. The only reason it won't go to a hearing is if the public liability insurer for the venue decides to pay out to get rid of the case. This I very much doubt!
2. You also need to realise there is a claim culture among people in Ireland where a claim is made once a solicitor can be obtained to take a 'no foal, no fee' action. The culture is different in Ireland when it comes to getting compensation, to that in the UK, where claims pay much less and legal criteria are applied more stringently.
3. I would advise you to strongly resist the proceedings. The crunch will come when this claimants solicitor wants money to take the case to court. At that point, the Tom Thumb will have to put his hand in his pocket to litigate the issue and it is at this point that many cases fall away. In Ireland, solicitors are happy to issue legal proceedings, but none will run with a case to trial unless they are assured of getting some money out of it. Irish solicitors don't pursue frolics on the part of their client.
4. You should also realise the target, or mark, here for Tom Thumb is the venue, as they have insurance. It will have been the barrister who will have advised to include you as makers of the chair, in a 'belt and braces' approach so the venue don't argue that the chair was defective. So, you need to see the aim of Tom Thumb taking the case.
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6. This platform is limited as it is purely a Question and Answer forum for information purposes. It does not purport to give legal advice or provide representation to litigants. However, you should effectively use your English solicitor to issue denials to this Tom Thumb and his solicitor. Additionally, you should get a doctor to examine him to assess his injuries to his thumb. They might not be consistent with your chair being defective or a chair causing his injuries. It is more likely it occurred due to horseplay. For the actual hearing in Ireland, you can get your English solicitor to either attend or get an Irish agent who is a local to attend and issue denials. Someone will also have to attend on your part and give expert evidence. So, you will have to get your Expert to examine the chair this Tom Thumb fell off and provide a report.
7. Essentially, your case will get pleaded if you don't accept the PIAB amount or don't accept liability. Then, your solicitor - whether Irish or English - will enter a Defence to deny liability and put the Plaintiff Tom Thumb on proof. This is what you can your 'denials'. In this regard, Irish procedure is the same as English procedure. However, if your English solicitor is not clear on the irish procedure then an Irish solicitor would be more appropriate.
8. This case will go to court in Ireland because that is where the accident happened and that is where proceedings have been issued. There will be no possibility of getting it transferred to England.
9. If you are 'confused', then you can ask for a second Opinion on this website, if you are not happy with the advice, or else, you should ask the solicitors whom you already have employed on the case. You should also know, as a matter of common sense, that if you sell into a country, such as Ireland, you are liable to be sued there as it is there any damage will occur. Ultimately, your remedy if you don't want to get sued in a country is not to sell there.
10. Finally, there is nothing to prevent you joining the manufacturer in china to the case. Your solicitors should already have told you that.