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AG’s role in Setanta debacle must be looked into – Doherty

15 September, 2015 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Fein’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said correspondence published by the Law Society has raised serious questions about the role of the Attorney General in the Setanta insurance debacle. Deputy Doherty said the Attorney General’s legal advice that the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) was not responsible for claims at the collapsed Setanta Insurance needs to be published so that its contribution to the delays and confusion experienced by customers of Setanta can be examined. 

Deputy Doherty said: 

“The published correspondence between the Law Society and the Minister for Transport raises serious questions. When I first raised the situation at Setanta Insurance with Minister Noonan in April 2014, he stated clearly that MIBI would be responsible stating: ‘The Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) have indicated that they intend to accept all third party claims in connection to Setanta policies’. 

“Then, the Minister changed his tune and said he accepted MIBI’s own legal advice that they were not responsible under the Agreement with the State citing ‘unequivocal’ legal advice. It is now clear that when the Transport Minister Pascal Donohoe sought legal advice from the Attorney General she, strikingly, also provided ‘unequivocal’ legal advice that MIBI were not liable. 

“Yet recently, the High Court ruled that MIBI is responsible for the 1,750 claims. This judgment could save the State up to €90m, yet were it left to the Ministers for Finance and Transport and the Attorney General this bill would have fallen on the State through the industry levy funded Insurance Compensation Fund. For customers and claimants, this judgment also means they can claim for the full amount instead of the lower of 65% or €825,000 that the State’s Insurance Compensation Fund would have limited their claims to. The State and Setanta’s customers should be very grateful for the vigilance and knowledge of the Law Society in this case. 

“The Attorney General’s advice seems to have been judged to be wrong by the High Court. She should publish the full advice she provided to the Minister for Transport or Minister for Finance. There are questions to be asked about whether her involvement contributed to the ongoing delay in access to compensation for the customers and claimants of Setanta Insurance. 

“This is a not just an academic legal question but one about the rights of people caught up in the collapse of a poorly regulated insurance company. For the Attorney General to apparently get it so wrong is worrying and raises serious questions.” 

Note: Link to exchange of correspondence between the Law Society and The Minister for Transport below

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