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Over €10 million paid in compensation to Hepatitis and HIV contaminated blood victims last year

Some €993 million has been paid in compensation since a Tribunal was established in 1995.

Image: Shutterstock/addkm

ONE VICTIM OF contaminated blood products last year received an award of €1.16m from the State.

That is according to the 2018 annual report of the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal which confirms that awards totalling €993 million have been paid out since it was established in 1995.

An additional €178.47m for related legal costs has also been paid out since 1995 bringing the total bill to the State to €1.171 billion.

The €178.47m in legal fees over the past two decades concern 3,787 claims.

The 2018 annual report states that €10.75m was paid out in compensation last year to 52 claimants who were infected with Hepatitis C and HIV through contaminated blood products more than two decades ago and their relatives.

The Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal has now paid out more than €743.55m in respect of 3,624 compensation payments since its establishment in 1995.

Additional compensation of €86.4m has been awarded to date by the High Court on appeal while an additional €163.1m has been paid out from a reparation fund.

The report shows for 2018 €4.85m was paid out in legal fees made in respect of 48 tribunal awards.

The figures show that three legal firms to receive the largest amount in legal fees last year were Malcomson Law which received €2.1m; Ivor Fitzpatrick received €385,258 and Ernest J Cantillon & Co received €211,240.

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.

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

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

There were 36 awards made by the Tribunal last year and the total amount awarded was €9.8m with the average being €272,848.

The awards range from €35,000 to the €1.16m.

In her report, Tribunal chairperson, Karen O’Driscoll SC said: “The Tribunal has been hearing claims on a continuous basis since March 1996. There were 48 new claims submitted in 2018 making a total of 4,939 to the end of 2018. While the Tribunal paid awards in 52 cases in 2018, approximately 417 initial claims are still awaiting hearing.”

Ms O’Driscoll stated: “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 €163,366 last year while an additional €126,811 was paid out in administrative expenses.

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Gordon Deegan

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