Causation In Australian Negligence Law And Impact On Assessing Liability Of Doctor Assessment Answer

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Question :

1. Describe the test for causation in Australian negligence law and discuss how it may impact on assessing the liability of doctors.

If you choose this question, your essay must do the following:

  • Set out the basic requirements of the law of negligence in Australia and describe the role of causation when assessing liability for negligent actions (approximately 40% of your words);
  • Explain how the practical operation of healthcare practice may impact on the application of the test of causation when judging the behaviour of doctors. Expressed differently, this section of the essay allows you to consider how effectively the causation test in negligence law helps fulfil the policy goal of enhancing patient welfare (approximately 50% of your words);
  • Your analysis must include and integrate discussion of the cases we have considered in the classes on negligence as it is applied to health care practitioners; and
  • You will also need to include an introductory paragraph and a conclusion in your essay (approximately 10% of your words).

Please read the following paragraphs on the expectations for your essay:

  • Structure your paper. Use informative headings and sub-headings to guide the reader through your paper. 
  • In order to write this paper you will need to do research, i.e. find relevant authority in the case law (if and where applicable) and (in this case probably more so) in the literature, and to analyse these materials. Any insight you gain from these materials and that you use in your paper must be properly footnoted. In law we usually follow the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th ed., 2018). In this particular course of the Sir Walter Murdoch School, however, you are probably faced with many citation styles and certainly political scientists are known to sometimes take, dare I say, a strict and peculiar approach. In our unit you can chose any style you want. What is important is that you actually do reference properly (omitting to do so constitutes plagiarism!) and that your referencing style allows the reader to identify your source without further research.
  • You are expected to employ your critical and analytical skills in this essay. Avoid mere description or regurgitation unless absolutely necessary for the reader to understand your text and do not block-quote excessively. Both your observations and your use of other people's writing should reflect this critical/analytical dimension. In sum, your intellectual input should be clearly discernible in the paper. 
  • You are not marked for your political or social views or opinions, but rather for your ability to present coherent, rational and logical arguments, properly supported by authority. 
  • You are also marked on your ability to express yourself clearly, logically and succinctly. Poor expression, grammar, punctuation and spelling will detract from your overall mark. 
  • Please note that your research effort, visible in the citations in the footnotes and demonstrated by your engagement with the material you have found, analysed and implemented into your own writing (and properly referenced in the footnotes) will be the central pillar for the mark you will receive.
  • Your research paper should not exceed 2000 words (inclusive of footnotes). The word count is primarily there to protect you. It is not a bean-counting exercise and is relevant mainly for equity reasons to ensure no one has an advantage because they wrote much more. Even if you are below the word limit you should still review your text for redundancy and succinctness and more so if you are above.
  • Use APA 6 referencing style
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Answer :

Law of Negligence


Negligence defines a condition in which an individual act in an inconsiderate (or "negligent") way, which outcomes in someone else is injured or possessions being damaged. The Negligence can frequently be a problematic part of law to define as it includes a legal study of the rudiments of negligence as they associated with the facts of a specific case (McDonald, 2005). Law of negligence and the limitation of liability Act 2008 linked to the law of negligence. It is An Act to improvement the law of negligence, to restrict liability, describe the liability of community Authorities, protect good Samaritans and helpers, and for other associated with purposes (Stewart & Stuhmcke, 2009). This pedicular essay will discuss about test for causation in Australian negligence and the how it can affect the assessment of liability of doctors. However, it is considered that person who did the negligence by deliberate mistake then in that case the concerned person who did the mistake would be personally liable. 

Basic requirements of law of negligence in Australia 

The law of negligence comes from case law or judge made law in Australia. The elements of negligence include that defendant (the individual being sued) must owed a responsibility of care on the facts of the scenario to the individuals injured, that the sued person must breached that responsibility of care, and that the duty breach caused by the harm or damage to the injured individuals (causation) (Trindade et al., 2007).  there are different established categories that state court willingly admit as grand a duty of care. There are different examples of the recognised categories involved the associations or relationships between land owner and tenant, occupier of land and the visitor to the specific land, lecturer and their students, a manufacturers and the client, employer and the employee, and road user and another road user, and a doctor and a diseased person in Australia. The duty of care happens when there is certain rationally predictable harm risk happening to another individual (Beever, 2007). A proficient is not neglectful in delivering a professional facility if it is recognised that the specialised acted in a way that (at the time the facility was delivered) was extensively recognised in Australia through a substantial number of appreciated doctors in the arena (peer specialised opinion) as knowledgeable specialised practice in the conditions. An individual cannot be accountable for indemnities for failure to take care to stop individual wound or decease unless neglectful conduct on his or her side (whether act or oversight) instigated the harm, and except that damage was not moreover ‘remote’ from the neglectful conduct. The present law in Australia (as failure by the High Court) seems to be that whether neglectful conduct produced the damage in query is to be replied by the use of ‘common sense’. An issue with this method is that it provides courts and other parties to neglect claims highly little direction about once negligent conduct will be measured to have produced harm (Rochford, 2007). However, it is found that it is undertaken to improvement the law of negligence, to restrict liability, describe the liability of community Authorities, protect good Samaritans and helpers, and for other associated with purposes (Stewart & Stuhmcke, 2009). All the nurses and doctors would be bind by the undertaken to strengthen the nursing care policies and meet the applicable rules and regulations. 

Role of causation when assessing liability for negligent actions

Causation is recognized as the "causal association between the conduct of defendants and end outcome". In other words, the causation delivers a means of linking conduct with the subsequent effect, characteristically an injury (Bonython, 2011). In the criminal law in Australia, it is described as the actus reus or an action out of which the detailed harm or other impact ascended and is mixed with the mens rea or a state of mind to include the rudiments of guilt. The Causation of a specific event alone is inadequate to generate lawful liability. Occasionally causation is recognized as one fragment of a multi-phase test for lawful liability. For instance, in order to defendant to be detained liable for specific tort of the negligence, the defendant should have payable the accuser a duty of the care, penetrated that responsibility, via so doing produced injury to the accuser, and that injury must not by highly remote (Carver & Smith, 2014). Causation is recognized just one constituent of the particular tort. On other different times, the causation is identified as the only obligation for lawful liability (except the circumstance that the result is prohibited). For instance, in the rule associated with liability of product, the legal courts have arisen to apply to guidelines of severe liability: the circumstance that the product of defendants instigated the accuser injury is the individual thing that is essential in Australia. The defendant particularly need not similarly have been shown to be negligent. In different events, causation is immaterial to lawful liability overall (Green, 2015). All the legal actions would be taken against the person who did the deliberate mistake in the actions in health care program. 

For instance, under an agreement of protection insurance, the particular insurer approves to insure the object for injury not instigated through the insurer, nonetheless by other different parties. Due to the difficulty in creating causation, it is single extent of the rule where the event law overlays suggestively with overall policies of analytic theory related to causation in Australia (Turton, 2016). The two different individuals have long been interacted. There are two different causes to care for the basis for the rule’s usage of causation related to the liability policies of offence and criminal regulation. The fewer pertinent one in this scenario is the lawful reformer’s purpose, which is used to evaluate what is the top examination for causation and to suggest that such type of test must be enacted for upcoming legal usage. Secondarily, and most relevant purpose in this scenario, is the motive of lawyers, which is intended to comprehend what the obligation for causation currently is under current law in Australia (Mendelson, 2017).

Impacts of practical operation 

Doctors play a key role in the effective healthcare delivery for patients. The standard of care projected of the clinician would be customary not only focusing on emergency condition of the condition, but similarly of the circumstance that a clinician who has experience as the dermatologist for numerous years will not be able to be competent and capable to deliver emergency therapy for a patient with heart-attack or heart failure as a cardiac specialist or even, possibly, an lively GP (Morris ET AL., 2019). The objective test addresses this issue. Nonetheless in the therapeutic context, as a minimum, it is exposed to numerous serious hostilities. Primary, it might be supposed to place too slight weight on the interest of the diseased person in decision making about their personal health. Furthermore, it impends to dent the sensitive duty to apprise. That responsibility requires the clinician to provide the patient data that the clinician recognises or must know the patient needs, irrespective of whether the sensible patient would need the data (Bonython, 2011). If the clinician fails to provide such data, it would appear unpredictable to response the query, of how a diseased person would have represented if the data had been specified, on the foundation that the diseased or injured person was a rational person. Moderately, the query to be requested is what that diseased person should do if the data had been specified. Thirdly, the particular objective test offers a response to the non-formal enquiry, ‘what must have occurred’, not the fundamental query, ‘what must have ensued’, if a defendant was not negligent. The Australian regulation presently accepts the subjective method, while in medicinal negligence scenarios (Stickley, 2016)

The 3-part test creates that the clinician allocated an obligation of care towards the diseased person, the obligation of care was broken, and as the straight outcome of the break the patient experienced harm. Successful public movements outcome in monetary recompense to the affected party or the dependents which might be compensated by the paying trust or the defence association of the doctor (Hodgson, 2013). Successful illegal prosecutions might outcome in a custodial judgement for the surgeon and a supplementary GMC suitability to medical practice hearing. To control negligence, a 3-phase test must be contented. The process consequently relies on establishment fault on the portion of the clinician, hospital, etc. The individual making the privilege (the applicant) must generate on the stability of likelihoods that neglect has happened through the hospital or clinician (the defendant). The association between a clinician and a diseased person is a superior one. Maximum anaesthetists’ function in a hospital atmosphere and further do not typically have patients openly admitted underneath their care. Once a diseased person is admitted to healthcare setting, a duty of care association is shaped, which then can be useful to any clinician deal with the individual not only the admitting group (Bonython, 2011). Henceforth, it is contended by therapeutic law researchers that any injured or diseased person is payable a responsibility of care, not just by the clinicians addresses the patient comes, nonetheless also by the people who are working by the particular Trust to carry out patient care. The understandings of patient wellbeing recommends about the part that systemic sources play in mistake and patient harm, if combined into examination of causation in negligence rights, could provision a more accurate knowledge of how wounds happen and where duty must lie, instead of simply focusing on the persons truly treating the diseased person (Trindade et al., 2007)

Example case

One of the examples is Canberra hospital case. In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), a physician specialist in rehabilitation at Canberra Hospital, who had recurrently been incapable to have anxieties about patient wellbeing addressed acceptably on the inside, persuaded the Health Minister to apply the ACT Health Grievances Commissioner to carryout an review into neurological facilities at the healthcare setting in 2000 ). The PT stated that occasioned after two years, even though grave of the care standards, “recognised that the investigation was so disadvantaged by doctors’ unwillingness to deliver suggestion as to reduce unreasonable a discovery on the problem”. Though not originally made communal, the statement was ultimately listed in the law-making assembly in the late 2003, and raised up sufficient worry to result in a further exterior enquiry. Commendations of the category that are characteristically made, reformulating medical governance assemblies, early broadcasting of sentinel proceedings, required audits and more will not do well deprived of a reformed recognised culture that provisions not just transparency, but also admire those who contribute and do describe (Gilmour, 2006).


The law of negligence involves the condition or situation where a health care worker neglected any act and guidelines which resulted in a health issues or injury to a person. There is different requirement must be considered such as the element so negligence like duty, breach of duty, harm, actual causation, and damage. Causation can play a key role in assessment if negligent action as it identifies the relationships between the defendant’s action and the final results. It can be used a multi stage test for identify legal liability if the health care professional so that the effective care can be provided to the patients. After in the end, it could be inferred that the person needs to be extra professional and care and should avoid the negligent behaviour in order to meet the applicable rules and guidelines.