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Sunday 21 September 2014

State won't pay full cost of Marie Fleming's right-to-die legal action

Tim Healy and Dearbhail McDonald

Published 22/01/2014 | 02:30

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Marie Fleming and her partner Tom Curran. Mark Condren

THE partner of the late Marie Fleming has welcomed the decision by the State to pay the vast bulk of the costs of the landmark legal action.

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It has agreed to pay most of the "substantial" legal costs of her unsuccessful right-to-die challenge.

Ms Fleming (59), who was living Co Wicklow, initiated her court action when she was in the final stages of multiple sclerosis.

Legal costs are expected to exceed six figures.

The estate of Ms Fleming, as losing party in the action, was facing the prospects of full legal costs.

PROCEEDS

It is expected that the State will bear 75pc of the overall costs, with the remainder to be paid from the proceeds of Ms Fleming's estate. The estate has not yet been administered.

Last night her partner Tom Curran said: "We haven't got around to doing anything (about probate) yet.

"But we are very relieved as we could have been facing 100pc legal costs."

Ms Fleming's autobiography, 'An Act of Love', will be published by Hachette Ireland next month.

Ms Fleming had sought orders permitting her to be lawfully assisted to have a peaceful and dignified death at a time of her choice without the risk of prosecution for anyone who helped her.

Last April, the Supreme Court ruled the right to life under the Constitution "does not import a right to die" in what it described as this "very tragic case".

Ms Fleming died last December, eight months after the Supreme Court dismissed her action.

The court agreed yesterday to an application by her counsel not to formally draw up the costs orders until her estate has been constituted.

Earlier, on the application of Ronan Murphy, for Ms Fleming, and with the consent of Shane Murphy, for the State, the court agreed to affirm an order made by the High Court awarding Ms Fleming costs against the State of that High Court hearing.

An order was also made yesterday awarding Ms Fleming half the costs of her Supreme Court appeal against the State.

In submissions provided to the court, lawyers for Ms Fleming had asked the seven-judge Supreme Court to exercise its exceptional jurisdiction to make an order for costs in favour of Ms Fleming despite the fact she had failed in her action.

Irish Independent

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