Following an application for a preliminary ruling by the Plaintiff in a High Court case(1), it was held that any claim for damages for personal injury arising from a claim for product liability against a producer, as defined under the Liability for Defective Products Act, 1991, requires an authorisation from the Injuries Board prior to court proceedings being issued.

The Plaintiff in this case sued for negligence and product liability against DePuy International Limited for defective product and device failure.  The device used was a medical device and fitted during a surgical procedure.  The Plaintiff did not make an application through the Injuries Board prior to issuing proceedings, relying on the statutory exclusion that medical negligence claims do not require an authorisation. 

The court did not accept the Plaintiff’s argument that her claim for damages against this Defendant arose out of the provision of a health care service and therefore, an authorisation was required. 

Importantly, there were no allegations made by the Plaintiff against DePuy that it was negligent in the provision of any health service, or that it carried out any surgical or medical procedure in a negligent manner.  Further, there were no allegations of negligence against a medical practitioner or the Hospital.

The Plaintiff in this matter had issued a second set of proceedings, protectively, in which an Injuries Board Authorisation was obtained.  She is therefore, likely to allow the set of proceedings under review to lapse.

This case will have implications for Irish cases involving defective medical products where no authorisation has been obtained and only the manufacturer, producer or supplier have been sued.