Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Ceisteanna (437)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

437. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the reason a pension reduction following a court case has occurred in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11978/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Army Pensions Acts provide for the grant of pensions and gratuities to former members of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) in respect of permanent disablement due to a wound or injury attributable to military service (whether at home or abroad) or due to disease attributable to or aggravated by overseas service with the United Nations. Section 13(2) of the Army Pensions Act, 1923, as amended, provides that “Any compensation which may be received from or on behalf of the person alleged to be responsible for the act which caused the wounding may be taken into consideration in fixing the amount of any pension, allowance or gratuity which might be awarded under this Act to or in respect of such person and if such compensation is received after the award of any such pension or allowance the Minister may review the award and, having regard to the amount of such compensation, either terminate or reduce the amount thereof.” The underlying objective of section 13(2) is to take into consideration compensation paid ‘on the double’ for the same disablement. Compensation of the kind in question would usually result from a civil action for damages against the Minister for Defence, but compensation received from any other source is not excluded.

In April 1986 the person in question was awarded a disability pension under the Army Pensions Acts in respect of a wrist injury that he sustained while serving in the PDF. The person in question also instituted civil proceedings in respect of the same injury and was awarded compensation of €37,457 (£29,500) by the High Court in July 1986. The annuity value of the compensation was assessed at €3,648 (£2,873) a year. The disability pension payable was therefore reviewed under the provisions of section 13(2) of the 1923 Act and it was decided to reduce it by the annuity value of the total compensation which he had received.

Subsequently, the person in question applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the decision to reduce the disability pension. The High Court quashed the decision to reduce the disability pension and ordered that the matter be considered anew. A fresh review of the disability pension was accordingly undertaken. All aspects of the case (including, in particular, representations made by his solicitors) were fully considered and in March 1988 it was decided to reduce the disability pension payable by the annuity value of the total compensation received by him. This reduction took effect from 1 April 1988. The effect of this decision was to reduce the current rate of disability pension payable from €13,373.17 a year to €9,725.17 a year.

I am satisfied that the abatement of the disability pension in this case has been properly determined in accordance with the relevant statutory provisions.