A recent Court of Appeal confirmed the position that proceedings against professional defendants in which no opinion or report from a suitably qualified expert alleging negligence against the professionals was in the possession of the Appellant were bound to fail.

For some time, the courts in his jurisdiction have expressed the view that it is irresponsible and an abuse of process for a party to commence professional negligence proceedings in the absence of an opinion from a suitably qualified expert that there are grounds for maintaining such proceedings.  This line of authority arises out of an understanding by the courts that claims for professional negligence can have very serious consequences for a professional even where there is no finding made. These principles have been set down and repeated in numerous cases including Reidy v The National Maternity Hospital [1997] IEHC 143 and Cooke v Cronin [1999] IESC 54.

In Gallagher v Letterkenny General Hospital & others  [2017] IEHC 212, Baker J adopted the views of Clarke J in Green v Triangle Developments Limited & Another where he explained the importance of having expert evidence in advance of commencing proceedings for professional negligence:-

“It is, of course, the case that no party should issue proceedings (or join a third party to existing proceedings) without having a credible basis for so doing. That situation applies with particular force in cases where it may be considered appropriate to maintain a claim for professional negligence.  It would be most inappropriate for any party to issue proceedings alleging professional negligence or join a third party against whom professional negligence was to be alleged, without having a sufficient expert opinion available that would allow an assessment to be made to the effect that there was a statable case for the professional negligence intended to be asserted.”

The Irish Courts will uphold the principles set down in Reidy v National Maternity Hospital and Cooke v Cronin and will strike out a case of professional negligence where it is proven that there is no opinion or report from a suitably qualified expert alleging negligence.

For further information contact: Helena O’Brien