Causation and Clinical Negligence: Bermuda’s legal contribution to the doctrine of “material contribution”

On 25 January 2016, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council handed down judgment in the case of Williams v The Bermuda Hospitals Board [2016] UKPC 4, the most recent reported decision of the highest appellate Court regarding material contribution in clinical negligence cases.

The Privy Council upheld the Bermuda Court of Appeal’s decision that a negligent delay to diagnose and treat its patient “materially contributed to the process, and therefore materially contributed to the injury to the heart.” Since there had been a material contribution, causation was established.

The judgment is available here: Williams v The Bermuda Hospitals Board (Bermuda) [2016] UKPC 4 (25 January 2016)
http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKPC/2016/4.html

There is also a useful summary of the judgment on Hardwicke Chambers’ website: http://www.hardwicke.co.uk/insights/articles/material-contribution-and-williams

See also 9 Gough Square’s summary: http://www.9goughsquare.co.uk/news/1067

Even more recently, in Carder v The University of Exeter [2016] EWCA Civ 790 (29 July 2016)
URL: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2016/790.html , the English Court of Appeal held as follows, per the Master of the Rolls at paragraph 41:

I refer to what Professor Sarah Green has said (quoted by Lord Toulson in Williams v Bermuda Hospitals Board [2016] 2 WLR 774 at para 31): “It is trite law that, where possible, defendants should only be held liable for that part of the claimant’s ultimate damage to which they can be causally linked… It is equally trite that, where a defendant has been found to have caused or contributed to an indivisible injury, she will be held fully liable for it, even though there may well have been other contributing causes…“”

 

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