Category Archives: Professional negligence

Tabet v Gett [2010] HCA 12 | 21 April 2010

ON 21 APRIL 2010, the High Court of Australia delivered Tabet v Gett [2010] HCA 12 (21 April 2010).

“NEGLIGENCE – Medical negligence – Damage – Loss of chance – Appellant suffered irreversible brain damage – Respondent’s delay in providing proper treatment breached duty of care owed to appellant – Where not established on balance of probabilities that breach caused any part of brain damage – Where breach at most caused loss of less than 50% chance of better outcome – Whether law of tort recognises or should recognise loss of chance of better outcome as damage giving rise to liability in negligence – Relevance of policy considerations concerning extension of liability in medical negligence cases.

NEGLIGENCE – Medical negligence – Damage – Loss of chance – Trial judge assessed as 40% the lost chance of better outcome – Court of Appeal found evidence supported no more than 15% chance of better outcome – Whether evidence sufficient to establish loss of chance of better outcome – Whether inference could properly be drawn from evidence as to loss of chance.

WORDS AND PHRASES – “balance of probabilities”, “damage”, “gist of the action”, “loss of a chance of a better outcome”, “standard of proof”.”

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2010/12.html

The law of negligence does not allow for damages to be awarded when the breach of duty of care causes less than a 50% chance of a better outcome.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2010/12.html

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Sydney, Australia

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Hawkins v Clayton [1988] HCA 15 | 8 April 1988

ON 8 APRIL 1988, the High Court of Australia delivered Hawkins v Clayton [1988] HCA 15; (1988) 164 CLR 539 (8 April 1988).

A firm of solicitors was held to be negligent by failing to take reasonable steps to locate an executor (a non-client) following the death of a testatrix (a client whose will they prepared and retained for safe keeping) for some six years after the testatrix’s death.  The solicitors were held to be liable to pay damages for the loss suffered by the executor (who was also a residuary beneficiary) in not being able to manage the estate during the period of delay.

The majority (Brennan, Deane and Gaudron JJ) held that the solicitors owed a tortious duty of care to the executor and that the action was not statute-barred.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1988/15.html

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Sydney, Australia

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Harvey & 1 Ors v PD [2004] NSWCA 97 | 30 March 2004

ON THIS DAY IN 2004, the NSW Court of Appeal delivered Harvey & 1 Ors v PD [2004] NSWCA 97. A doctor performing STD tests upon a couple has a duty before the tests are performed to obtain the couple’s consent to share the results.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/nsw/NSWCA/2004/97.html

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Sydney, Australia

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Esanda Finance Corporation Ltd v Peat Marwick Hungerfords (Reg) and Hill v Van Erp [1997] HCA 8 | 18 March 1997

ON THIS DAY IN 1997, the High Court of Australia delivered Esanda Finance Corporation Ltd v Peat Marwick Hungerfords (Reg) [1997] HCA 8; (1997) 188 CLR 241; (1997) 142 ALR 750; (1997) 71 ALJR 448 (18 March 1997) and Hill v Van Erp [1997] HCA 9; (1997) 188 CLR 159; (1997) 142 ALR 687; (1997) 71 ALJR 487 (18 March 1997).

Professional advisors will be liable for economic loss suffered by non-clients in cases where there has been a failure by the advisor to properly perform the duty (eg failing to ensure that audited accounts met accounting standards in Esanda; and failing to ensure that a will was validly signed in Van Erp).

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1997/8.html

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1997/9.html

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Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) | 18 June 2002

ON 18 JUNE 2002, the NSW Civil Liability Act 2002 was enacted.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/cla2002161/

The substantive provisions commenced retrospectively on 20 March 2002. There have been successive amendments, notably those which commenced in December 2002 and 2004 and June 2006.

The Act modifies the Australian common law with respect to civil liability claims in New South Wales, except those set out in s3B.

The Act limits the circumstances in which people may recover damages for civil wrongs and the amount of damages and costs they recover.

The significant features of the Act include:

  • Statement of principles for determining negligence.
  • Modification of causation test.
  • No duty to warn of obvious risk.
  • No liability for materialisation of inherent risk.
  • No liability for harm suffered from obvious risks of dangerous recreational activities.
  • No duty of care for risk warning of dangerous recreational activity.
  • Standard of care for professionals.
  • Contributory negligence can defeat a claim.
  • Fixing damages for economic and non-economic loss, including thresholds, discounts and maximum limits.
  • Limiting interest.
  • Restrictions for persons in custody.
  • Restrictions for mental harm.
  • Allocation of proportionate liability for concurrent wrongdoers.
  • Limiting liability of public authorities.
  • Restricting recovery for intoxicated persons.
  • Exclusion of liability for persons acting in self defence, good Samaritans, food donors or volunteers.
  • Apologies not to affect liability.
  • Limiting damages for birth of a child.
  • Exclusion of liability for trespass or nuisance by ordinary use of aircraft.
  • Costs restrictions.

The Act does not apply to claims (or parts of claims) regarding:

  • Intentional acts with the intent to cause injury or death or sexual assault or other sexual misconduct.
  • Dust diseases.
  • Tobacco.
  • Motor Accidents and public transport accidents.
  • Workers, Victims and Sporting Injuries compensation.

 

Lawyers

Sydney, Australia

1300 00 2088

Tabet v Gett [2010] HCA 12

ON 21 APRIL 2010, the High Court of Australia delivered Tabet v Gett [2010] HCA 12 (21 April 2010).

“NEGLIGENCE – Medical negligence – Damage – Loss of chance – Appellant suffered irreversible brain damage – Respondent’s delay in providing proper treatment breached duty of care owed to appellant – Where not established on balance of probabilities that breach caused any part of brain damage – Where breach at most caused loss of less than 50% chance of better outcome – Whether law of tort recognises or should recognise loss of chance of better outcome as damage giving rise to liability in negligence – Relevance of policy considerations concerning extension of liability in medical negligence cases.

NEGLIGENCE – Medical negligence – Damage – Loss of chance – Trial judge assessed as 40% the lost chance of better outcome – Court of Appeal found evidence supported no more than 15% chance of better outcome – Whether evidence sufficient to establish loss of chance of better outcome – Whether inference could properly be drawn from evidence as to loss of chance.

WORDS AND PHRASES – “balance of probabilities”, “damage”, “gist of the action”, “loss of a chance of a better outcome”, “standard of proof”.”

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2010/12.html

The law of negligence does not allow for damages to be awarded when the breach of duty of care causes less than a 50% chance of a better outcome.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2010/12.html

Lawyers

Sydney, Australia

1300 00 2088

Harvey & 1 Ors v PD [2004] NSWCA 97

ON 30 MARCH 2004, the NSW Court of Appeal delivered Harvey & 1 Ors v PD [2004] NSWCA 97. A doctor performing STD tests upon a couple has a duty before the tests are performed to obtain the couple’s consent to share the results.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/nsw/NSWCA/2004/97.html

Lawyers

Sydney, Australia

1300 00 2088

Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW)

ON 18 JUNE 2002, the NSW Civil Liability Act 2002 was enacted.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/cla2002161/

The substantive provisions commenced retrospectively on 20 March 2002. There have been successive amendments, notably those which commenced in December 2002 and 2004 and June 2006.

The Act modifies the Australian common law with respect to civil liability claims in New South Wales, except those set out in s3B.

The Act limits the circumstances in which people may recover damages for civil wrongs and the amount of damages and costs they recover.

The significant features of the Act include:

  • Statement of principles for determining negligence.
  • Modification of causation test.
  • No duty to warn of obvious risk.
  • No liability for materialisation of inherent risk.
  • No liability for harm suffered from obvious risks of dangerous recreational activities.
  • No duty of care for risk warning of dangerous recreational activity.
  • Standard of care for professionals.
  • Contributory negligence can defeat a claim.
  • Fixing damages for economic and non-economic loss, including thresholds, discounts and maximum limits.
  • Limiting interest.
  • Restrictions for persons in custody.
  • Restrictions for mental harm.
  • Allocation of proportionate liability for concurrent wrongdoers.
  • Limiting liability of public authorities.
  • Restricting recovery for intoxicated persons.
  • Exclusion of liability for persons acting in self defence, good Samaritans, food donors or volunteers.
  • Apologies not to affect liability.
  • Limiting damages for birth of a child.
  • Exclusion of liability for trespass or nuisance by ordinary use of aircraft.
  • Costs restrictions.

The Act does not apply to claims (or parts of claims) regarding:

  • Intentional acts with the intent to cause injury or death or sexual assault or other sexual misconduct.
  • Dust diseases.
  • Tobacco.
  • Motor Accidents and public transport accidents.
  • Workers, Victims and Sporting Injuries compensation.

Lawyers

Sydney, Australia

1300 00 2088

Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW)

ON THIS DAY IN 2002, some parts of the Civil LIability Act 2002 (NSW) are taken to have commenced.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/cla2002161/

 

Heydon v Nrma Ltd & Ors [2000] NSWCA 374

ON THIS DAY in 2000, the NSW Court of Appeal delivered Heydon v Nrma Ltd & Ors; Bateman & v Nrma Ltd & Ors; Morgan & Ors v Nrma Ltd & Ors [2000] NSWCA 374 (21 December 2000).

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/nsw/NSWCA/2000/374.html

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/poteoa1997455

Lawyers

Sydney, Australia

1300 00 2088