A pressing need for early resolution of clinical negligence cases

Slow litigation processes are racking up legal costs that are among the highest in the world

Letter of the Day
Letter of the Day

Sir, – Mary Carolan’s article “‘Adversarial’ approach to clinical negligence contributing to State bill of €4.1 billion, conference told” (News, June 19th) highlights the costly and “not fit for purpose” process to resolve clinical negligence claims in Ireland. Both Ciarán Breen, the director of the State Claims Agency, and Mr Justice Charles Meenan rightly urge the introduction of pre-action protocols to facilitate early resolution of cases.

Pre-action protocols are a set of guidelines, laid out through legislation, which explain the conduct and steps a court expects parties to take before claims can commence. This encourages claims to be settled outside of litigation and reduces the time the process takes.

Pre-action protocols have been widely accepted as needed in Ireland over the last 10 years, and the Government has committed to their introduction in both the 2022 and 2023 justice plan.

We are, however, still waiting for the necessary regulations to be introduced.


A recent Medical Protection Society (MPS) report shows that the slow litigation processes in Ireland are affecting patients’ and doctors’ mental wellbeing and racking up legal costs that are among the highest in the world.

The report revealed that at MPS, it takes 1,462 days on average to resolve a clinical negligence claim, which is over 50 per cent longer than those we resolve in Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK.

The average legal cost for an Ireland claim managed by MPS is €34,646 which is 191 per cent more expensive than in the UK (€11,911).

The need for pre-action protocols is becoming increasingly pressing, and we will continue to call on the Government to deliver this reform.

With damaging effects to patients and doctors’ mental wellbeing, significant delays to compensation being paid, and eye-watering legal costs, the current situation is clearly no longer sustainable. – Yours, etc,


Medical Protection Society,