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€99m medical negligence payouts in Republic last year

There were 50 cases of medical negligence in the Republic in 2017
Aoife Moore, Press Association

MEDICAL institutions in the Republic paid out more than €99 million last year for negligence.

The Courts Service Annual Report reveals there were 50 cases of medical negligence in 2017.

The lowest amount awarded was €17,500, while the highest payout totalled €15m, an increase of €6m from 2016.

Medical negligence accounts for almost half of the €206m awarded for all personal injury claims.

The report shows that of the 665,000 new matters before the courts, there have been huge increases in defamation cases - up almost 85 per cent - while European Arrest Warrants have jumped by 42 per cent to 344 from 243 in 2016.

There has also been an increase in drug-related cases, from 20,000 to 23,000.

Continuing the trend from the last four years, women are more likely to apply for a divorce than men.

The rate of divorce has decreased slightly. However, domestic violence incidents before the courts have risen by 5 per cent, with 6,368 applications for safety orders submitted.

There has been a 25 per cent increase in criminal appeals in all courts, from 15,000 up to 20,000, and despite utilising all available resources, appeals lodged in the Court of Appeal exceeded the number that were disposed of.

Chief Justice Frank Clark said: "Increases and decreases might well reflect changes in the law, or in the environment in which we conduct commerce or organise society."

Mr Clark went on to issue a plea to the government to be clearer in the wording of new and changing legislation in terms of how it will be implemented in the courts, making waiting times and proceedings unduly longer due to confusion or requests for clarification.

"We must always be aware that not all legislation is clear, with a road map to the resolution of disputes, or to a clear understanding of the intent of the law makers," he said.

"It is a reality that legislators, both in Europe and in Leinster House, sometimes produce unclear or unduly complex legislation and there will undoubtedly be arguments that take a lot of effort to resolve.

"As long as this remains the case - especially in the area of environmental and planning laws - then projects are going to be held up.

"The solution lies in the hands of legislators in producing greater clarity," he said.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he agreed that issues needed to be addressed in regards to language of new laws.

"I think the lord chief justice is right in so far as any legislation should be clear to understand, legislation is complex and I believe its important that legislation is couched in plain English, so people can understand it," he said.

"I'm keen to ensure that court personnel of the highest level, in the form of judges, are available to deal with the many cases of huge diversity that come before the courts on a daily basis."

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