Ten legal firms shared €31m costs in medical negligence cases from State Claims Agency

€4.76m paid out in legal costs in CervicalCheck claims to date

The top 10 best-paid legal firms engaged in medical negligence cases against the State last year shared legal costs payout of €31 million (incl 23 per cent VAT) from the State Claims Agency (SCA).

That is according to figures provided by the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly (FF) who has confirmed that legal costs amounting to €4.76 million have been paid in respect of CervicalCheck claims to date.

In his written Dáil reply to co-leader of the Social Democrats, Catherine Murphy TD, Minister Donnelly confirmed that the SCA has received 378 CervicalCheck claims including psychological claims brought by family members.

He said: “In relation to the 378 claims received, 156 have been concluded.”


He said that the €4.76 million in legal costs include fees paid to mediation services, which he said is consistent with the SCA’s policy of using mediation wherever possible to resolve these claims in a non-adversarial manner.

The figures show that the Co Tipperary firm operated by Cian O’Carroll who represented the late Vicky Phelan in the pivotal High Court case concerning the CervicalCheck scandal received the highest amount in legal costs last year from the SCA at €4.75 million.

The figures concerning amounts paid to plaintiffs’ legal firms also show that Michael Boylan Litigation Law firm received €4.1 million in legal costs relating to 18 cases in 2021; Augustus Cullen Law Solicitors received €2.19 million concerning 19 cases; Cantillon Solicitors received €2 million in legal costs in 12 cases; Callan Tansey Solicitors received €1.98 million concerning 22 cases and Damien Tansey Solicitors received €1.69 million concerning 13 cases.

The monies paid to plaintiff legal firms also included the money paid to barristers and experts representing the plaintiffs.

The figures also show that legal firms representing the SCA in clinical care claims also receive substantial sums – Hayes Solicitors received €4.63 million concerning 248 claims in 2021; Mason Hayes and Curran Solicitors received €3.84 million concerning 148 claims; Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors received €3.13 million for 106 cases and Comyn Kelleher Tobin received €2.7 million for 97 cases.

Commenting on the figures, Cian O’Carroll stated that the fee for the solicitors involved, the Instructions Fee, “forms only a fraction of the overall costs figure reported”.

He said: “Nevertheless, medical negligence cases are very complex, usually hard fought by the health service provider and require huge inputs of time by legal teams on behalf of the injured party and so the legal costs that relate to this type of case are significant.”

He said: “The more complex a case, the more time is involved and that leads to higher legal costs. You do not get paid as a percentage of the damages and we do not charge our clients a fee.

Mr O’Carroll said that his practice is almost exclusively devoted to working for the victims of medical accidents and last year the office was 25 strong including 10 solicitors who are all engaged in medical negligence cases.

Mr O’Carroll stated that the costs all relate to cases that the State fought at least to trial stage.

He said: “While they say that they seek to mediate cases to spare the injured party from an adversarial litigation process, our experience is that they only seek mediation on the eve of trial. This does little to ease the stress on plaintiffs.”

Mr O’Carroll stated that “if the HSE was more forthcoming with acknowledging a mistake when it happens and then set out steps they are taking to avoid a repetition of the mistake, a lot of people would not feel the need to take legal action”.

Mr O’Carroll said that he acts or has acted for 17 women or their families who have died “from the gross negligence in the operation and management of CervicalCheck”.

Mr O’Carroll said that overall he “would be quite confident in saying that to date, at least 30 women have died from these shameful and avoidable errors”.

Mr O’Carroll said: “The human cost of these failings cannot yet be counted as cancers continue to be diagnosed that should have been detected by CervicalCheck’s labs.”