Khan v Meadows [2021] UKSC 21 – UKSC Weblog

On this publish Rebecca Khan, a Authorized Help Assistant at Matrix Chambers, feedback on the case of Khan v Meadows [2021] UKSC 21 – handed down on the 18th of June 2021. This attraction raised necessary questions concerning the software of the scope of responsibility precept in medical negligence instances. The judgment is handed down along with the court docket’s judgment in Manchester Constructing Society v Grant Thornton UK LLP [2021] UKSC 20.

The Details

The appellant, Ms Meadows, is the mom of a kid with haemophilia and autism. Previous to her being pregnant, the appellant consulted her GP apply in 2006 to ascertain whether or not she carried the haemophilia gene. The appellant ought to have been referred to a haematologist for genetic testing. As an alternative, following blood checks, Ms. Meadows was negligently led to consider by the respondent Dr Khan, a common practitioner in the identical apply, that she was not a provider of the gene. On account of this recommendation, and earlier consultations, Ms. Meadows was wrongly led to consider that any baby she had wouldn’t have haemophilia.

Ms. Meadows grew to become pregnant along with her son Adejuwon in 2010, who was recognized with extreme haemophilia shortly after his start. Had Ms Meadows recognized that she carried the haemophilia gene, she would have undergone fetal testing for haemophilia whereas pregnant. This may have revealed the fetus was affected, and the appellant would then have chosen to terminate her being pregnant.

In 2015 Adejuwon was additionally recognized with autism, an unrelated situation. Nevertheless Adejuwon’s autism made the administration of his haemophilia extra difficult. He’s more likely to be unable to handle his personal therapy or administer his personal medicine. In itself, Adejuwon’s autism is more likely to stop him from being in paid employment.

There is no such thing as a dispute that Dr Khan is liable in negligence for the prices of mentioning Adejuwon attributable to his haemophilia. The difficulty on this case arises from the query of whether or not Dr Khan is responsible for all prices associated to Adejuwon’s disabilities arising from the being pregnant or solely these related along with his haemophilia.

The judgments under

The Excessive Courtroom held that Dr Khan was responsible for prices related to each Adejuwon’s haemophilia and autism.

The Courtroom of Attraction allowed Dr Khan’s attraction, discovering her responsible for prices related to Adejuwon’s haemophilia solely. It’s thought of the scope of a defendant’s responsibility of care laid down in South Australia Asset Administration Corpn v York Montague Ltd [1997] AC 191 (“SAAMCO”) as determinative of the difficulty. In concluding that Dr Khan needs to be responsible for a sort of loss which didn’t fall throughout the scope of their responsibility to guard the Ms. Meadows in opposition to, the Excessive Courtroom choose had utilized the “however for” causation take a look at.

The Courtroom of Attraction took the view that it was inadequate for the court docket to seek out that there’s a hyperlink between the breach and the stage within the chain of causation, on this case the being pregnant itself, and thereafter to conclude that the appellant is responsible for all of the moderately foreseeable penalties of that being pregnant. The Excessive court docket had referred to at least one hyperlink within the chain of causation depriving the Ms. Meadows of the chance to terminate the being pregnant. The SAAMCO take a look at requires the hyperlink to be between the scope of the responsibility and the harm sustained.

Supreme Courtroom

Unanimously dismissing the attractionthe Supreme Courtroom addressed the next points:

  1. The authorized difficulty of whether or not in a medical negligence case the court docket ought to comply with the method of ascertaining the scope of a defendant’s responsibility of care laid down by the Home of Lords within the SAAMCO take a look at, and, if it ought to, how that method is to be utilized.

The Supreme Courtroom utilized a six stage mannequin to investigate the place of the scope of responsibility precept within the tort of negligence [28]. The mannequin served to exhibit that the questions of factual causation and foreeability can’t circumvent the questions which have to be addressed in figuring out the scope of the defendant’s responsibility [30].

The appellant submitted that the scope of responsibility precept in SAAMCO doesn’t apply in medical negligence claims, and is simply relevant in instances of pure financial loss [61]. The court docket couldn’t settle for this submission, as there isn’t any principled foundation for excluding medical negligence from the ambition of the precept. Holding that the scope of responsibility in query should contemplate the “nature of the service which the medical practitioner is offering” with the intention to decide what dangers “the regulation imposes an obligation on the medical practitioner to train cheap care to keep away from” [63].

  1. Is the medical practitioner liable in negligence for the prices of mentioning the disabled baby who has each circumstances or just for these prices that are related to the hereditary illness?

Making use of the ideas above, the court docket concluded that the losses referring to Adejuwon’s autism had been outdoors the scope of Dr Khan’s responsibility of care [77]. Lord Leggatt thought of the scope of responsibility precept’s software on this case to be simple. The one goal of the appellants session was to study if she carried the haemophilia gene. There was no discovering that Dr Khan ought to or should have been conscious of any reality which gave rise to an obligation to advise on every other matter [84].

Because the Home of Lords made clear in SAAMCO, knowledgeable whose responsibility is restricted to advising on a selected subject material shouldn’t be chargeable for all foreseeable antagonistic penalties to the claimant of giving negligent recommendation. They’re solely responsible for losses that are “throughout the scope” of the adviser’s responsibility of care. On this case, the subject material of the respondent’s recommendation was restricted as to if the appellant carried the haemophilia gene and due to this fact solely losses causally related to that subject material are throughout the scope of their responsibility to the appellant [98].

Remark

This case highlights an necessary distinction in instances of wrongful start between medical companies supposed to forestall the start of any baby, and companies advising on a specified threat related to the start.

The judgment serves as a reminder that the easy ‘but-for’ take a look at shouldn’t be all the time a enough situation for the imposition of legal responsibility, and solely kinds a precondition for authorized causation. The significance of the scope of responsibility can’t be ignored, and has the potential to play a major position in limiting the defendant’s publicity to legal responsibility.

Rebecca Khan is a Authorized Help Assistant at Matrix Chambers.


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