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The New Edition of the Northern Ireland Green Book – Impact on soft tissue injuries



Five years after the publication of the last edition of the Green Book, the long-anticipated sixth version came into force on 8 April 2024. When comparing the fifth edition of the Green Book to the sixth edition, there are some notable differences in how soft tissue injuries are addressed. The new edition brings structural changes – in particular, in cases where these categories overlapped, sub-categories have been introduced to provide clarity.

It also provides updated guidelines for assessing the severity of whiplash, the impact on an individual’s daily life, the extent of treatment required, the need to take medication to control the pain, the impact on an individual’s ability to work and any long-term effects. It acknowledges that whiplash can lead to chronic pain, reduced mobility, and other ongoing symptoms that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life.


For soft tissue neck injuries, the level of awards has increased substantially from 40% to 66% depending on the subcategory. A full recovery within 6 months can now attract awards of up to £5,000 as opposed to the previously recommended figure of £3,000. A full recovery of a minor neck injury within 1–2 years can now attract awards of up to £17,500.

The latest edition provides clarity in respect of time frames with the addition of subcategories to include time frames of 6 months and 6–12 months.


Unlike the significant increase in neck injuries, minor back injuries have attained a more conservative increase of 25%. This increase reflects awards within the County Court in recent years and we don’t expect to see a significant change to awards for minor back injuries. Again, subcategories have been introduced to provide clarity in respect of time frames to include periods of within 6 months and 6–24 months. A full recovery within a few days, weeks or up to 6 months can attract awards of up to £5,000. A full recovery within a period of more than 6 months and less than 24 months can attain awards of up to £22,500. The 6–24 month bracket is wide-ranging. Such a bracket provides less clarity than those amendments for neck injuries in terms of a time frame for recovery and leaves scope for interpretation from both defence and plaintiff practitioners.


Soft tissue injuries to shoulders have seen an increase of almost 25% in awards. A soft tissue injury with considerable pain and with complete recovery in less than a year now attracts awards of £15,000 compared to the previously recommended guideline awards of up to £12,000.


The new guidelines will hopefully provide more clarity and consistency for awards in respect of soft tissue injuries within the Northern Ireland jurisdiction with the introduction of subcategories. The increase in awards reflects recent trends within the County Court and is in line with inflation. We anticipate these increases will lead to a higher volume of cases now falling within the remit of the High Court. This is due to the fact that soft tissue injury claims can often be accompanied by claims for psychiatric injury and/or special damages claims, meaning that more claims at their height could well breach the £30,000 County Court threshold.

It also is important to note that the Green Book contains guidelines and not strict rules. Each case is unique, and judges have the discretion to consider individual circumstances when determining damages. They may also take into account other factors such as pre-existing conditions or any aggravating factors.


If you would like any more information about anything covered, please get in touch.

Gemma McKeown, Solicitor

Email: gmckeown@keoghs.co.uk

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