In August 2018, the Irish Government asked High Court Judge, Mr Justice Meehan to examine and make recommendations on how cases arising out of the CervicalCheck controversy could be resolved outside of the adversarial court system. Last week, Mr Justice Meehan published a concise report entitled “Report on an Alternative System for Dealing with Claims arising from CervicalCheck” and recommended that a private Tribunal should hear and determine CervicalCheck cases on a voluntary basis.
The report highlights a number of benefits over the current adversarial Court system such as expediency, reduction in legal costs, privacy and, above all, less formal and stressful setting for the parties involved. Below are some of the key features that would form part of a CervicalCheck Tribunal: –
– A Tribunal would consist of a sole Chairperson who would either be a serving or retired Judge of the Superior Courts;
– The Chairperson may be assisted by an expert(s) in the relevant area of expertise involved, however, such an expert will not play any role in the decision of the Tribunal;
– The Chairperson would decide issues as to liability, quantum and legal costs on the same basis that a Judge of the High Court would;
– Crucially, the consent of the parties involved is required before a Tribunal would hear and determine cases;
– The time limits set out under the Statute of Limitations would apply in the same way that they do in other legal proceedings;
– Tribunal hearings are to be heard in private and the Tribunal would have the power to publish determinations in anonymous form;
– A right of Appeal to the High Court would exist by way of a full hearing and a further right of Appeal to the Court of Appeal and / or the Supreme Court as is provided for in law;
– Pre-action protocols and case management would apply to ensure an efficient, expeditious and streamline procedure for the hearing of such cases.
Interestingly, Mr Justice Meehan found that Tribunals, with some modifications, could also be used to hear cases of medical negligence.
A full copy of the report can be found on the link below: –
Ronan Hynes, Partner commented on the report that: “These proposals are welcome in principal and will require urgent legislation to be passed by the Oireactas. It is important to emphasise that this is not a mandatory Tribunal and can only be availed of with the consent of both parties. A Tribunal will hear cases in private. However, Mr Justice Meehan has, quite rightly, upheld the individual’s constitutional right to access to the Courts and has made some very helpful practical recommendations, which would address concerns should victims wish to proceed alternatively to the High Court”.
Should you require more information please contact Ronan Hynes, Partner on 061 432 348 or by email at [email protected].