Robert MacRae has written to the lawyers for the plaintiffs and defence in the case of two siblings who are seeking damages after suffering a catalogue of sexual, physical and emotional abuse while in their family home, a Royal Court trial was told.
The court heard that Advocate MacRae wants to know whether a periodic payment order – an order that has never before been used in Jersey and allocates damages payments in set intervals rather than in a lump sum – could be considered.
It is not known whether the Royal Court has the power to impose such an order.
However, Advocate MacRae’s potential intervention was fiercely criticised by Advocate David Benest, the siblings’ legal counsel, who told the court that the Attorney General had thrown a ‘missile’, disrupting the case and added that he ‘should not poke his nose in where it is not wanted or needed’.
At the beginning of the trial in June, both the defence – which admits the siblings should have been taken into care sooner, but disputes the level of damages sought – and the plaintiffs’ counsels said they wanted a lump sum to be awarded.
However, on Wednesday, defence counsel Advocate Lee Ingram told the court that a PPO was a ‘live issue’, as there was now ‘greater certainty’ about what care the siblings would require in the future.
Commissioner Pamela Scriven QC, who is presiding over the trial, has now asked Advocate MacRae to apply to the Royal Court within seven days if he intends to intervene in the case. She has also directed Advocate Ingram to set out details of the PPO he is seeking by Tuesday.
Advocate Benest, who said he opposed the defence seeking a PPO, argued there was no certainty about the care the plaintiffs would need in the future. He told the court that it was ‘very late in the day’ for Advocate MacRae to intervene.
‘He should not poke his nose in where it is not wanted or needed,’ he said.
Advocate Benest also questioned whether it was right for Advocate MacRae to argue whether the court had the power to impose a PPO during the trial.
‘If the States thought there should be a regime of PPOs it should not do so in this way,’ he said. ‘It should do so properly and in the way that the Parliament has done in the UK.’
He also questioned the timing of the letter.
‘It seems to me coincidental that the trial has not gone as anticipated for the defence and the Attorney General suddenly springs up,’ Advocate Benest said.
However, Advocate Lee Ingram strongly denied any suggestion that the defence team had spoken to Advocate MacRae before the letter was sent.
‘The first I heard about the letter from the Attorney General was from my learned friend, when he asked me if I had seen it,’ he said.
Advocate Ingram added: ‘What we don’t glean from the Attorney General’s letter is what he is going to do [if the PPO is a live issue]’.
The siblings, who can only be known as Plaintiff Two and Plaintiff Three, are seeking £121 million and £117 million respectively.
The Health Minister is offering Plaintiff Two £10.289 million and Plaintiff Three £4.25 million.
The case, which is being heard by Jurats Paul Nicolle and Sally Sparrow, continues.