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Interim report released on law of tort  reform in personal-injury casesNew Page

11 Mar 2019 / legislation Print

Interim report released on law of tort reform

The expert group examining the law of tort as it applies to personal injuries has delivered its interim report.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan's report examines the management of clinical negligence claims in the healthcare context.

High Court

It also considers reform options of relevant tort law to increase the effective and sensitive handling of claimant cases.

In this process, the group is also examining the impact of tort legislation on overall patient-safety culture and open disclosure.

The expert group received some 41 submissions and also heard three oral presentations.

Health minister Simon Harris (pictured) said last week that all options must be explored in seeking an alternative mechanism for resolving clinical negligence claims, which is more person-centred, and yet fair to all parties.

The expert group was established in June 2018, chaired by High Court judge, Mr Justice Charles Meenan.

Alternative mechanisms

Its remit is to 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 to: 

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 and make recommendations on what further legal reforms or operational changes could be made to improve the current system, 

Consider whether there may be an alternative mechanism to the courts’ process for resolving clinical negligence claims or particular categories of claims, particularly from the perspective of the person who has made the claim,

Examine whether a mechanism could be established that 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,

Examine whether an alternative dispute-resolution mechanism, or a no-fault system, would be effective in some cases, 

Examine the role of the HSE in addressing the problems encountered by those involved in clinical-negligence claims, and addressing the health needs of those affected, with consideration given to whether particular care packages could be made available for those with specific injuries, such as cerebral palsy, following birth, 

Examine the role of the State Claims Agency in managing clinical-negligence claims on behalf of the HSE, to determine whether improvements could be made to the current claims management process,

Consider the impact of current tort legislation on the overall patient-safety culture, including reporting on open disclosure. 

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