I want to record at the outset my sympathy for all those affected by issues arising from CervicalCheck. I met with the 221+ Patient Support Group before Christmas and they explained their concerns in relation to a number of matters including the issue raised by the Deputy concerning the operation of the Civil Liability Act 1961.
I have received a copy of a draft Bill that the Deputy shared with my colleague, the Minister for Health. That draft Bill is, as I understand it, intended to address issues raised in the Supreme Court judgment in the Morrissey v. HSE case.
In the Morrissey case, the Supreme Court held that the dependants of a plaintiff who has brought an action for personal injury cannot, while the plaintiff is still alive, claim for the future loss of services which the plaintiff might have been expected to provide for his or her family. The Court stated that if the law in this area is to be changed, it would have to be done by way of legislation, rather than by an evolution in the case-law.
A personal injury action may be brought by an injured person, or a wrongful death action may be brought under section 48 of the Civil Liability Act 1961 by his or her dependants after his or her death, but it is not possible for both of these actions to be brought arising from the same wrongful act.
My Department is still considering the issues which have been raised by the Morrissey case and will be engaging with other government departments as part of that consideration.