Skip to content
News / June 24, 2010

Supreme Court places stay on High Court injunctions

by Guy Hiscott

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is in the process of appealing to the Supreme Court against the decision of the High Court to grant two dentists injunctions against the HSE.

On 18 June a stay was placed on the High Court’s order, with the appeal expected to be heard on Friday 2 July.

A spokesperson for the HSE declined to comment on the matter.

The High Court had granted an injunction to stop the HSE restricting the scheme for free dental treatment for medical card holders.

Dr Martin Reid and Dr James Turner brought the case against the HSE, claiming the changes to the dental treatment scheme unilaterally vary the terms of an agreement between dentists and the HSE, amounting to a breach of contract by the HSE.

The presiding judge, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, told those in court that she was satisfied that Drs Reid and Turner had established a case for granting injunctions against the HSE to stop changes being made before a full hearing can be held.

The judge went on to issue an order restraining the HSE from giving effect to the circular of 26 April 2010.

She also granted an injunction preventing the HSE breaching the agreement between dentists and the HSE for the provision of dental services to medical card holders.

She explained that if changes were made to the scheme before the action could be heard in full dentists would suffer irreparable harm to their practices, at which time damages would be an inadequate remedy.

Welcoming the decision of the court, Fintan Hourihan, CEO of the Irish Dental Association, said the IDA had huge concerns about the implications of the cuts for patients, the dental health of the country as a whole and the dentists who made the scheme work so effectively.

He stated: ‘In late April we described the HSE’s move as unsafe, unworkable and unethical. We said it would hit the most vulnerable in our society the hardest, as well as setting back the dental health of the nation by decades. We also said that the cuts did not make any financial sense as every case of delayed treatment would require hugely expensive treatment in future years. Happily the Court decision supports that view and hopefully this will concentrate minds in the HSE.