We continue to make the case for bold – but achievable – legal reforms to address the rising cost of clinical negligence. Meaningful law reform takes time to achieve, and MPS is committed to campaigning for as long as it takes, so we can see changes that benefit our members.
In the short term, we are actively supporting steps that could be taken to improve civil justice in Ireland.
Earlier this year, the Government established an Expert Group – chaired by Mr Justice Charles Meenan - to consider an alternative mechanism to the court process, for resolving clinical negligence claims. This Expert Group has an important task ahead of it. MPS has provided detailed submissions to Mr Justice Meenan’s work in 2019; here are just a few examples of the reforms we are calling for –
Specialist Courts; specialist judges
At MPS, we are acutely aware of how specialist the area of law surrounding clinical negligence is. That is why we are calling for the introduction of a specialist personal injury/clinical negligence Court with specialist judges. The Court’s would have procedural rules designed to ensure the early engagement of parties and adequate case management. We believe that this approach could lead to useful precedents for clinical negligence practitioners and bring consistency in approach, particularly regarding awards of damages.
The increased use of technology, where appropriate, could have a really positive impact for all parties involved in court actions, as well as for the court system itself. That is why we are calling for its use to be explored more widely. Increased use of e-litigation would reduce the need for parties to travel to court thereby reducing costs, saving time, and increasing access to justice.
We are supporting the introduction of proactive Court-led case management to ensure that claims are appropriately progressed and without undue delays. We believe many of the changes to case management could take place relatively swift, such as the introduction of a Court timetable that sets out key steps and deadlines in every case.
Be it short-term; medium-term or long-term action – MPS is committed to campaigning for reforms that will reduce costs, deliver a fairer system, for the benefit our members and society as a whole. While some of these changes are quite technical, their impact could be very real – with the whole process being made less stressful for doctors and patients, costs being reduced and outcomes being more consistent.
If you have any comments or questions we would love to hear from you.