Blog: Landmark decision handed down over Real Rate of Return



Lyndy Cantillon
Lyndy Cantillon

Lyndy Cantillon, associate solicitor at Cantillons Solicitors in Cork, explains their ground-breaking victory in the Supreme Court.

In November 2015, the Court of Appeal handed down its decision in the case of Gill Russell v HSE. The medical negligence team at Cantillons had represented Gill Russell in the High Court, where he got a significant award for personal injuries he sustained during his birth.

In the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross made pronouncements on the law in relation to the manner in which damages were to be calculated in the future, in cases such as Gill Russell’s where there is likely to be significant future expenditure. The court dealt with the legal / economic issue of the Real Rate of Return.

The team at Cantillons argued that the Real Rate of Return should be reduced from 3 per cent to 1 per cent, with a consequence that the award for Gill would be significantly increased. The court accepted Cantillons’ argument, and awarded over €15 million to Gill.

The HSE appealed Mr Justice Cross’s reasoning in relation to the Real Rate of Return. In a landmark decision, the Court of Appeal rejected the HSE’s appeal, and confirmed the decision of Mr Justice Cross.

Not satisfied with this result, the defendants sought leave to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court.

After much deliberation, the Supreme Court yesterday refused leave to appeal, bringing this debate to a final determination in favour of keeping the Real Rate of Return at 1 per cent.

This is a ground-breaking case, because it affects all other cases of catastrophic injury.

  • Lyndy Cantillon is an associate solicitor at Cantillons Solicitors in Cork. You can view her profile here.