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Five Momentous Cantillons Cases which have changed the way we live and are governed in Ireland

Posted in [Blog General Updates ] on Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

At Cantillons our ethos is that we set legal precedents rather than just following them.  It is perhaps easy to compose these marketing phrases but what is the proof?  What legal precedents have been set by Cantillons?

Cantillons Solicitors have been involved in a number of key legal cases which have changed the law in Ireland and more importantly they have changed the lives of victims of personal injuries and others for the better.  These are a few examples:

Best v Wellcome

This ground-breaking case sought to establish, for the first time, in Europe, an association between a vaccine administered to humans and brain damage. The research in this case, including legal, medical, scientific and factual was painstaking.  This case concerned a young boy Kenneth Best who had suffered horrific injuries as a consequence of being administered the vaccine. The settlement was one of the first medical negligence cases and was the highest ever awarded in Ireland at the time.  It obtained for Kenneth and his family funds to provide the 24 hour care which he requires and clearly deserves.

Before this case, large scale medical negligence proceedings in Ireland were virtually unheard of.  Since this case many families have gone on to successfully sue the State, Hospitals and manufacturers of defective products and to ease the financial burden had been lifted for the family.

Paul O’Donoghue (a minor) -v- The Minister for Education

Article 42 of the Constitution provides that “The State shall provide for free primary education”.  Up to the time that this case was taken, the State took the view that they had no obligation to educate persons with intellectual disabilities.  The State in fact argued that persons with profound intellectual disabilities were ineducable.  Up to that point in the 90s, education had been very much viewed by the Department of Education as being confined to scholastic education solely for the able bodied.  This ground-breaking case, established that persons with disabilities (no matter how profound) were entitled to primary education and were capable of benefiting from such education.  This case established that the State had a constitutional obligation to educate such persons and that such education was primary education.

Jamie Sinnott -v- The Minister for Education

This case established that the right to a primary education (established in the O’Donoghue case) did not end at the age of twelve (as the Department of Education contended) but extended to the age of eighteen for persons with intellectual disabilities.  The cases also established that if the State failed to provide such education as the person with disabilities was entitled to then that person could be entitled to significant damages.

As a result of the O’Donoghue and Sinnott cases, persons with disabilities throughout the country, continue to benefit from accessing educational facilities up to the age of 18 years. Every time I meet a client or friend who explains that their teenage son or daughter with an intellectual disability attends school, I am reminded that before these cases were fought and won, these young people would have been forced to leave that education and support network at the age of 12.

Russell -v- HSE

Damages are awarded in successful cases for personal injuries. These damages include an amount to compensate the victim for out of pocket expenses in the future for example for future carers, future adaptions to the house, medical costs etc.  In this ground breaking case, the Firm achieved a change in the method by which future damages are calculated by the courts in all cases.  As a consequence of the decision in this case, the damages in Ireland awarded to all persons catastrophically injured are far greater (as they should be in line with economic predictions) and hopefully will allow the funds awarded to provide for such persons as long as they require.

Louise O’Keeffe -v- Ireland and the Attorney General

Cantillons represented Ms O’Keeffe in her landmark case against the State.  Ms O’Keeffe was sexually abused in a National School by her teacher.  The National School was controlled by the State. The Firm pursued the case through the Irish Courts up to the Supreme Court and ultimately to the European Court in Strasbourg where Ireland was found to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.  This case established that the Irish State had been negligent in failing to protect Ms O’Keeffe from abuse in a national school. It is hoped that the many other victims of abuse in Ireland will benefit from this ruling and achieve the compensation they so richly deserve due to wrongs done to them in similar circumstances.

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.” 

Jody Cantillon



Jody is a Partner in our Litigation Department.

Having graduated from University College Cork in 2009, Jody completed his apprenticeship with a top litigation defence firm in Cork City and qualified as a Solicitor in 2014.

Prior to joining Cantillons Solicitors in 2016, Jody worked for a leading Dublin firm, specialising in the area of commercial litigation and dispute resolution. There he gained valuable experience in defending and prosecuting high end, large scale commercial disputes before the Commercial Court.

Related Solicitors

Orla Kelly


Ernest J. Cantillon

Managing Partner

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