VHI has won its bid to have economist Moore McDowell excluded from being called as an expert witness in a case involving the insurer’s refusal to provide cover for a proposed private hospital in Limerick.
The Court of Appeal today ruled the High Court had erred when it last year refused an application by the private health insurance provider to exclude Professor Moore McDowell from acting as an expert witness for an opposing side in the action.
But the Court of Appeal said Professor McDowell who previously had a retainer with the VHI, by agreeing to his engagement as an expert witness for the company behind plans for a private hospital in Limerick had put himself into a position of obvious conflict of interest.
Mr Justice Maurice Collins was giving the judgement of the three judge Court of Appeal in which the VHI had sought to overturn the refusal to exclude the economics expert from acting as a witness for the other side in an action over cover for the proposed Limerick hospital.
Mr Justice Collins said The Limerick Private Limited and its director Shay Sweeney have long had plans to develop a private hospital in Limerick city and in 2006 had first approached the VHI requesting it approve the hospital and agree the cost of providing medical services to VHI members.
In 2014, the judge said after what appears to have been a protracted process of negotiation the VHI refused to approve cover.
In 2015 The Limerick Private Ltd began High Court proceedings challenging the lawfulness of the refusal. In the action The Limerick Private Ltd seeks a declaration it is entitled to have the hospital approved by the VHI. It further contends the VHI refusal is an alleged abuse by the VHI of its position of dominance in the market. All the claims are denied by the VHI.
In October 2017, Professor McDowell was retained by The Limerick Private Ltd as an independent economic expert in the proceedings.