State cost of defending negligence claims up by almost €26 million

Minister says State Claims Agency achieved 22 per cent savings in 2013

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the estimate for State Claims Agency costs in 2013 was €154 million but the actual outgoings were €119.7 million, which represented a 22 per cent saving. Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the estimate for State Claims Agency costs in 2013 was €154 million but the actual outgoings were €119.7 million, which represented a 22 per cent saving. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The cost to the State of defending negligence cases against public bodies increased by almost €26 million between 2012 and 2013, it has emerged.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the State Claims Agency (SCA) saved €43 million in its handling of these cases in 2012 because the independent actuarial assessment of spending to resolve clinical claims and manage ongoing claims was €127 million but the actual cost was €84 million, which, he said, represented a 34 per cent saving.

The estimate for the following year was €154 million but the actual outgoings were €119.7 million, which represented a 22 per cent saving, he added. However, annual costs increased from €84 million in 2012 to €119.7 million the following year.

Tribunals

In 2012 the

SCA set up a legal costs unit to deal with third-party costs arising from inquiries including the Mahon and Moriarty tribunals. The Minister revealed to Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath that a total of 220 orders for costs have been made in the Mahon tribunal.

Up to the end of May this year that tribunal received 104 claims for costs totalling €8.55 million. Seventy-seven have been settled. The total demand for these claims was €2.86 million; they were settled for a total of €1.41 million. The remaining 27 claims are for a total of €5.69 million. The Minister said the €1.96 million in settlement costs avoided the necessity for taxation and saved approximately 44 per cent.

The Moriarty tribunal has made a total of 125 cost orders to date. Up to May this year 27 claims for costs totalling €8.55 million were made. Twenty-four, looking for €2.86 million in total, were settled for €1.41 million. Mr Noonan said the settlements at these rates avoided “the necessity for taxation, representing a saving of approximately 50 per cent”.