General Advice – April 2019


Educating The Experts

I have written previously on how lawyers should educate their experts on the types of reports they need, the questions that should be answered, the issues that should be avoided and the general performance of the expert in the court environment.

doc in court

There is another dimension in which experts also require education. It relates to changes in the law. I remember when the Personal Injuries Proceeding Act and the Civil Liability Act were first enacted. To this day, briefing solicitors still provide written guidance in their letters of referral so that the expert can be in no doubt.

I also subscribe to the Queensland Law Society journal, Proctor. I find this to be a fascinating publication and pay special attention to the section dealing with Court of Appeal judgements.


These judgements are usually of a commercial or criminal nature but occasionally, deal with issues related to personal injuries or medical malpractice or negligence.

I am intrigued by the way you write, you think and you express yourselves. I don’t pretend to understand some of the convoluted sentences that seem to extend to several paragraphs in length. Neither do I take the time to look up the judgements that have been used by way of reference.

The experience however is very enlightening. I have also gone to the trouble to dig out some of the judgements from the High Court that are of relevance to medicolegal reporting. Rogers and Whittaker is probably the best known but there have also been some very interesting judgements dealing with the failure of a general practitioner to call a patient back who had an abnormal pap smear result, failure to offer a patient a chance to attend a surgeon with greater experience in the removal of parathyroid glands and the general duty of care owed to a patient who may be recalcitrant in following advice.

Lecturer with attentive audience

Whereas medical practitioners are often invited to legal conferences as guest speakers, the converse does not happen nearly often enough. Maybe it’s time for the Queensland Law Society and the Queensland Bar Association to start approaching the learned colleges in medicine, offering their services and raining on our parades!