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The State has paid out over €1 billion in compensation to victims of contaminated blood products

Erik G

STATE COMPENSATION PAYMENTS to victims of contaminated blood products passed by the €1 billion milestone in 2019.

That is according to the 2019 annual report of the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal which confirms one victim of contaminated blood products received almost €1 million in compensation in 2019.

The new report shows that compensation payments to victims of the contaminated blood products totalled €1.003 billion at the end of 2019.

The total is made up of €751.6 million in awards made by the tribunal; €87.4 million in awards made by the High Court on appeal and a further €164.8 million in reparation fund payments.

In 2019, the tribunal paid out €8 million in awards including one totalling €970,000.

Along with the €1.003 billion paid out to victims, the tribunal has paid out an additional €183 million for related legal costs bringing the total bill to the State to €1.186 billion.

The report shows that two legal firms representing those making claims shared the vast bulk of €5.4 million paid out in legal costs by the tribunal in 2019.

The €5.4 million legal costs concerned 45 awards – an average €120,400 legal cost for each case.

The annual report shows that Malcomson Law received €3.77 million in legal costs while Ivor Fitzpatrick & Company received €1.379 million.

The spend of €183.3 million in legal costs over the past two and a half decades concerns 3,832 claims.

The average payout of the 28 awards paid out in 2019 was €287,356.

The tribunal was established to compensate people infected with Hepatitis C as a result of being administered with contaminated Anti D human immunoglobin manufactured by the Blood Transfusion Service Board between 1970 and 1994.

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The controversy led to the establishment of the Finlay Tribunal which proved highly critical of the BTSB.

The scandal also caused major political difficulty for Fine Gael’s Michael Noonan who was minister for health at the time.

The tribunal’s remit was expanded in 2002 to award compensation to individuals who contracted HIV from certain blood products.

The tribunal has been hearing claims on a continuous basis since March 1996.

In her report, Tribunal chairperson, Karen O’Driscoll SC said: “There were 32 new claims submitted in 2019 making a total of 4971 to the end of 2019. While the Tribunal paid awards in 28 cases in 2019, approximately 411 initial claims are still awaiting hearing. The Tribunal continues to be able to assign a hearing date without delay to any claim for which full supporting documentation has been lodged.”

The fees paid to the Tribunal members and chairman totalled €192,305 in 2019 while an additional €124,750 was paid out in administrative expenses.

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