The CervicalCheck Tribunal Act 2019 has passed all stages in the Dail and was signed into law by the President on 23 July 2019.
The legislation provides for the establishment of a tribunal for women affected by CervicalCheck to have their cases heard without having to go to court.
The Government says the aim of the tribunal is for hearings to be less adversarial than the current court process due to the adoption of pre-hearing protocols and case management procedures.
The Tribunal will consist of a chairperson and not less than 2 ordinary members appointed by the Minister. The ordinary members must have held a judicial office or be a practicing barrister or solicitor with at least 10 years experience.
The cabinet approved the appointment of Ms Justice Mary Irvine as the chair in December 2018.
Claims before the Tribunal
The Act allows for a relevant woman or a dependant of the relevant woman to make a claim for compensation to the Tribunal in relation to any act or omission concerning CervicalCheck or for an alleged failure to inform the relevant woman or a dependant of the relevant woman concerned of the results of the retrospective CervicalCheck cytology audit.
While the tribunal is an alternative to the courts, women are not prohibited from going through the courts process.
The Tribunal's hearings will be held in private, unless the woman or the next-of-kin requests it to be held in public. Agreement is required between the parties before the Tribunal can hear and determine such claims.
Powers of the Tribunal
As well as hearing and determining claims, the Tribunal can report and make recommendations as it deems appropriate on any matter relating to the work of the Tribunal.
The Tribunal also has wide-ranging powers to compel witnesses and documentation and has the power to put in place procedures to be complied with before claims are brought i.e. pre-action protocols.
The Act also provides for ‘restoration of trust’ meetings to facilitate discussion and provision of information. These will allow the women or their families to discuss their experiences in relation to CervicalCheck.