The rise in legal consultancy expenditure by the Medical Council in 2020 was associated with the regulator’s increasing volume of work, the Covid-19 pandemic, and legislative changes, a spokesperson has told the Medical Independent (MI).
The regulator’s annual report for 2020 noted that legal consultancy fees rose to €526,274 from €258,500 in 2019. The Council’s spokesperson told MI: “While the volume of work carried out by the Medical Council has increased year on year, the amount of legal consultation required has also increased. 2020 brought unprecedented challenges around the regulatory functions of the Medical Council and advice was required across the usual range of queries.
In addition, legal advices and consideration were required in relation to the hosting of remote inquiries.” The spokesperson said advice was also obtained in preparation for significant legal change that will be implemented under the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Act 2020, once commenced.
“Additional advices were required in relation to professional qualification directives and accreditation procedures. Advices were also needed in relation to GDPR and Freedom of Information requests. “Legal advice was also sought in regard to amendments to the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 and to the rules around registration.”
Legal costs and settlements in 2020 totalled €2,328,605, which was a decline on the €2,898,355 spent in 2019. Some €1,722,239 of the expenditure last year related to inquiries and €122,372 pertained to High Court and Supreme Court proceedings.