Press Release

Publication of the Interim Report of the Expert Group on tort reform and the management of clinical negligence claims

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD and the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD today (Thursday) published Mr Justice Charles Meenan’s Interim Report of the Expert Group to review the law of torts and the current systems for the management of clinical negligence claims.

This Group is examining tort law as it currently applies to personal injuries arising in the healthcare context and considers options for reform of relevant tort law. It is especially examining the system from the perspective of the person who has made the claim to explore if there is a better way to deal effectively yet more sensitively with certain cases. In this process the Group is also examining the impact of tort legislation on the overall patient safety culture and open disclosure.

The Group had received some 41 submissions and has also heard three oral presentations.

Minister Harris said “I welcome the Interim Report of Judge Meenan’s Expert Group and want to record my appreciation for the valuable work done to date by the Group. We need to explore all options to seek an alternative mechanism for resolving clinical negligence claims, which is more person-centred and yet fair to all parties. Both myself and Minister Flanagan look forward to receiving the final report of the Expert Group in June 2019.”

Minister Flanagan said “I welcome the publication of the Interim Report and the progress made by the Expert Group, chaired by Mr Justice Charles Meenan. My officials are actively involved in the work of the Expert Group. The Interim Report outlines the Group’s examination of the complex and challenging issues involved in this area. I look forward to receiving their full report and any recommendations in due course.”

The Interim Report sets out progress of the group to date and is available on both of the Department’s websites.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

In June 2018, as part of a commitment in the Programme for Government, the Minister for Health, the Minister for Justice and Equality, in association with the Minister for Finance, announced the establishment of an Expert Group to consider an alternative mechanism to the court process for resolving clinical negligence claims. The group chaired by the High Court Judge, Mr Justice Charles Meenan, was established to review current systems for the management of clinical negligence claims.

Government agreed in June 2018 to the establishment of an Expert Group to review the law of torts and the current systems for the management of clinical negligence claims. They agreed that High Court Justice Charles Meenan would chair the Group which would advise on whether there are alternative mechanisms to the current court process for resolving clinical negligence and personal injury claims.

The Terms of Reference of the Expert Group are:

  1. a) review the law of torts from the perspective of the management of clinical negligence and personal injury claims in order to assess the effectiveness of the legal framework and to advise on and make recommendations on what further legal reforms or operational changes could be made to improve the current system;

 

  1. b) consider whether there may be an alternative mechanism to the court process for resolving clinical negligence claims, or particular categories of claims, particularly from the perspective of the person who has made the claim. To do this, the Group will examine whether a mechanism could be established which would deal more sensitively and in a more timely fashion with catastrophic birth injuries, certain vaccine damage claims, or with claims where there is no dispute about liability from the outset. It will also examine whether an alternative dispute resolution mechanism or a no-fault system would be effective in some cases;

 

  1. c) examine the role of the HSE in addressing the problems encountered by persons involved in clinical negligence claims and addressing the health needs of persons affected by clinical negligence, with consideration given to whether particular care packages could be made available for persons with specific injuries, e.g. cerebral palsy following birth;

 

  1. d) examine the role of the State Claims Agency in managing clinical negligence claims on behalf of the HSE to determine whether improvements can be made to the current claims management process.

 

  1. e) consider the impact of current tort legislation on the overall patient safety culture, including reporting on open disclosure