Press Release

Minister for Health publishes the report of Mr Justice Charles Meenan on an alternative system for dealing with claims arising out of CervicalCheck

The Minister for Health Simon Harris has today published the report of Mr Justice Charles Meenan on an alternative system for dealing with claims arising out of CervicalCheck.

Judge Meenan was tasked by Government in August with identifying further mechanisms to avoid adversarial court proceedings for the women and families affected by the CervicalCheck issues.

The Judge’s report, which can be found here, proposes that a Tribunal be established under legislation to hear and determine claims arising out of CervicalCheck. Hearings in a Tribunal would be heard in private and be less formal than a court process. This alternative system will take into account the issue of liability, each person’s Constitutional right of access to the courts and all parties’ Constitutional rights to fair procedures. For these reasons he notes that the system must be voluntary.

In his report Judge Meenan recognises the courage and fortitude of the women and their families who told him of their experiences of dealing with the devastating consequences of cervical cancer and the effects of the non-disclosure, or disclosure in an unacceptable way, of the results of audits carried out following diagnosis.
Minister Harris said: “I would like to thank Judge Meenan for his invaluable report. He has carried out an extensive piece of work, including consultation with the women, their families and their representatives.”

“Judge Meenan’s report requires consideration by a number of Government Departments and I have committed this morning to returning to Government with proposals next month.”

ENDS

Notes to  the Editor

Judge Meenan’s terms of reference were:

  1. ​Engage with the women, their families and their representatives to assess what, in their opinion, could be done to provide an alternative to court.
  2. ​Assess the management of cases, liability and quantum that arise, in conjunction with the State Claims Agency and other relevant bodies (State parties, laboratories, insurers, indemnifiers and affected parties).
  3. Have regard to the work of Dr. Gabriel Scally’s Scoping Inquiry and the International Clinical Expert Panel Review led by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists,and the British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.
  4. Report to the Minister for Health within two months. The report to recommend a way through which these cases can be resolved, in a sensitive and timely manner, that is appropriate to these cases involving complex liability issues and multiple parties, outside of adversarial court processes.

It is important to note that this report by Judge Meenan is separate to the work he is undertaking as Chair of the Expert Group on Tort Reform and the Management of Clinical Negligence Claims. The interim report on the work of that Group will be provided to the Minister for Health and the Minister for Justice and Equality in early December and its final report should be provided in early 2019.