Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (415)

Holly Cairns

Question:

415. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Education the amount her Department has spent on legal costs arising from litigation involving children with special educational needs on an annual basis since 1 January 2010; the number of cases involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8361/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

It should be noted by the Deputy that my Department does not initiate such proceedings and cases are generally only litigated where no potential settlement is acceptable to both sides and the Government's authority to decide issues of education policy is in question. My Department does not take lightly any decision to defend cases concerning children with special educational needs. Therefore, my Department is not complacent in dealing with these cases and attempts, wherever possible, to reduce the potential for litigation and the levels of legal costs that arise.

Legal costs incurred by the State in defending proceedings instigated against the Department, are not met directly by the Department. In accordance with financial procedures in cases involving damages or compensation against the State, costs are generally charged to the Chief State Solicitor's Office Vote as sanctioned by the Attorney General. The Department may be required to meet the legal costs of Applicants/Plaintiffs where there is a settlement or an order for costs against the State in cases where my Department is a named party.

Please see Table below which details any such Legal Cost contributions to Applicants/Plaintiffs for the years 2010 to 2020, which are readily available to my Department.

It should be noted by the Deputy that in some years my Department also received reimbursements of legal costs from various parties, including contributions towards such costs from State co-defendants, involved in the litigation process. These reimbursements have been taken account of in the figures provided, as applicable.

YEAR

Total expenditure for SEN Litigation Legal Costs

2010

€649,239.75

2011

€622,159.30

2012

€172,665.85

2013

€69,888.86

2014

€115,929.90

2015

€117,465.00

2016

Nil

2017

Nil

2018

€69,147.50

2019

€19,875.00

2020

€172,084.51

Question No. 416 answered with Question No. 384.