ON 27 OCTOBER 1995, the NSW Court of Appeal delivered CES and Anor v Superclinics (Australia) Pty Ltd and Ors (1995) 38 NSWLR 47.
The plaintiff (CES) sought civil damages for the loss of opportunity to terminate a pregnancy arising from the defendants’ alleged breach of duty of care by failing to detect a pregnancy . Newman J of the Supreme Court of NSW found in favour of the defendants, not satisfied that the evidence justified a finding that termination of pregnancy would have been legal in accordance with Levine J’s test in R v Wald.
The NSW Court of Appeal upheld an appeal, ordering a new trial. The Court of Appeal held that the evidence did not justify a finding than a termination of pregnancy would have been illegal.
The Wald test, per Levine DCJ (at 29) provides:
“It may be that an honest belief be held that the woman’s mental health was in serious danger as at the very time when she was interviewed by a doctor, or that her mental health, although not then in serious danger, could reasonably be expected to be seriously endangered at some time during the currency of the pregnancy if uninterrupted. In either case such a conscientious belief on reasonable grounds would have to be negatived before an offence under s83 of the Act could be proved.”
Kirby P in CES and Anor v Superclinics (Australia) Pty Ltd and Ors said that the Wald test “allows a consideration of the economic demands on the pregnant woman and the social circumstances affecting her health when considering the necessity and proportionality of a termination.”
Kirby P said that there is “no logical basis for limiting the honest’ and reasonable expectation of such a danger to the mother’s psychological health to the period of the currency of the pregnancy alone.”
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