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Question

161. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Justice her plans and views regarding each of the recommendations of the expert group report to review the law of torts and the current systems for the management of clinical negligence claims relevant to her Department and those bodies under the aegis of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1976/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): In June 2018, as part of a commitment in the then 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, comprised representatives from the Departments of the Taoiseach, Public Expenditure and Reform, Justice and Equality, Health, Office of the Attorney General, HSE, State Claims Agency as well as patient advocacy representation and a practising solicitor who has experience representing plaintiffs. 
The Working Group’s Report, which was published last December, contains seventeen recommendations for change, six of which come under my Department’s remit.  These recommendations relate to:
- the implementation of pre-action protocols for clinical negligence actions;
- the imposition of penalties for failure to comply with the requirements of pre-action protocols;
- the commencement, following the introduction of pre-action protocols, of section 221 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 which will amend the Statute of Limitations in clinical negligence cases;
- introduction by the Courts of case management of clinical negligence claims;
- introduction by the Courts Service of a dedicated High Court list for clinical management claims; and
- the amendment of section 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to provide for sanctions where a defendant files a defence containing matters in respect of which there is no supportive expert report.
In relation to pre-action protocols, my Department is finalising details of the necessary regulations with the Office of the Attorney General.  Commencement of the relevant section of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 which will amend the Statute of Limitations will follow shortly after the introduction of the pre-action protocol regulations.  My Department will shortly be engaging with the Courts Service in relation to case management of clinical negligence actions and in relation to the possibility of a dedicated High Court list for such actions.  Consideration of the recommendation to amend section 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 is ongoing.
In line with the Government decision on this issue, I will be reverting to Government regarding implementation of the recommendations shortly.