Chambers is pleased to announce that Andrew Willetts has successfully completed his postgraduate LLM degree in Medical Law with commendation, and will be awarded a Master of Laws degree this December by Northumbria University.
Andrew chose for the subject of his dissertation the implications of the House of Lords decision in Chester v Afshar  4 All ER 587 in the field of clinical negligence. This case concerned the failure of a surgeon to give a proper warning to his patient prior to surgery of the inherent risks involved, which later materialised. The surgery itself was not negligent, but by a majority the House of Lords held that it was the patient's ‘right' to be told of all serious risks involved in surgery and that a surgeon has a positive ‘duty to warn' of such risks. The significance of Chester lay in the fact that if a surgeon was found to be in breach of that duty to warn he would be liable in damages even though the failure to warn did not cause (in the old ‘but for' sense) the injury (from the inherent risk) that followed. In this respect Chester modified the normal test in causation to achieve an equitable outcome for the patient. This is a clear departure from the ‘medical paternalism' espoused in Sidaway v Bethlem Royal Hospital Governors  1 All ER 643 and has moved the UK a step closer to adopting the American style ‘doctrine of informed consent'.
The award the Masters of Law degree will compliment Andrew's extensive knowledge in personal injury and help broaden his practice into clinical negligence.
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