The State Claims Agency (SCA) has released figures revealing that the cost of compensation claims taken against the State was €256.2 million last year.
The SCA is the Government entity which handles legal actions taken against the State. The reported increase of 22%, which brings the accumulative cost of compensation claims to €2.2 billion, was included in and released in their 2016 accounts. In comparison with previous years, it is clear from these figures that there has been a surge in the amount of costs incurred due to legal actions involving the State in recent years.
Séamus McCarthy Comptroller and Auditor General for the Government’s financial watchdog remarked on the consistent increase in compensation claims saying, “The number of claims under management has increased significantly since 2011”.
The figures in the account under scrutiny show that the number of legal actions against the State given a ‘pending’ status numbered 8,900 at the end of 2016. At the end of 2011 this number was 6,000.
The total amount of compensation and legal costs paid out for legal actions against the State in 2016 was €256.2 million. In 2015 the figure was €219.3 million, showing a growth of 22%, or €36.9 million. This correlates with the total number of actions taken, which grew by 24% to 2,300. There were a number of factors that contributed to this rise.
The payout breakdown by government agency was also released. Compensation pay outs for legal actions taken against the child protection agency Tusla and the Health Service Executive (HSE) made up the majority (€1.9 billion) of the €2.2 billion total amount paid out by the state.
The Department of Justice and Defence, including the Gardaí, prison service and Army, was responsible for claims worth €175 million compared to €27 million for to the Department of Health.
The compensation bill for the Department of Education was approximately €50 million.
The State Claims Agency was established as part of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), to tackle at the increase in compensation claims being taken against the State.