Families seek nursing home fee repayments – The Irish Times – Fri, Jan 28, 2011

A number of medical card holders have brought High Court actions seeking repayment of nursing home fees for which they were allegedly incorrectly charged before a new law was brought in four years ago.

I wrote about this last November:

Have older people in private nursing homes received a fair deal from the State?

… I think that those who were entitled to public care but were denied it and compelled to seek private care have a claim to of unjust enrichment. … (i) the state was enriched, because it was saved the otherwise inevitable expense of meeting its obligations under s52 of the [Health Act,] 1970 … Moreover, (ii) that enrichment was at the expense of the older people who were forced into private nursing homes, as it was this private care which saved the government the expense of meeting its s52 obligations. (iii) There are several possible causes of action in this context. First, many older people made private arrangements because they had no other choice; the acted under a practical compulsion or necessity in the circumstances; and such practical compulsion amounts to a cause of action in the law of of unjust enrichment. Second, many older people made private arrangements in the mistaken belief that they were not entitled to access public care (indeed, that mistaken belief was induced by the state); and such a mistake also amounts to a cause of action in the law of of unjust enrichment. For either of these reasons, therefore, it can be said that the state’s enrichment at the expense of the older people is an unjust enrichment. If these three enquiries are answered in the affirmative, it would mean that the plaintiffs have prima facie claims against the State. (iv) The final question then is whether the state has any defences to such claims. …

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