17.—(1) The plaintiff in a personal injuries action shall, after the prescribed date, serve a notice in writing of an offer of terms of settlement on the defendant.
(2) The defendant in a personal injuries action shall, after the prescribed date, serve a notice in writing on the plaintiff—
(a) of an offer of terms of settlement, or
(b) stating that he or she is not prepared to pay any sum of money to the plaintiff in settlement of the action.
(3) A copy of a formal offer shall, after the expiration of the prescribed period be lodged in court by, or on behalf of, the plaintiff or defendant, as the case may be.
(4) The terms of a formal offer shall not be communicated to the judge in the trial of a personal injuries action until after he or she has delivered judgment in the action.
(5) The court shall, when considering the making of an order as to the payment of the costs in a personal injuries action have regard to—
(a) the terms of a formal offer, and
(b) the reasonableness of the conduct of the parties in making their formal offers.
(6) This section is in addition to and not in substitution for any rule of court providing for the payment into court of a sum of money in satisfaction of a cause of action or the making of an offer of tender of payment to the other party or parties to an action.
(7) In this section—
“formal offer” means an offer under subsection (1) or (2)(a), or a statement under subsection (2)(b);
“prescribed date” means such date before the date of the commencement of the trial of the personal injuries action concerned as is prescribed by order of the Minister;
“prescribed period” means such period commencing on the prescribed date as is prescribed by order of the Minister.