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Bunkle to seek members bill on exemplary damages

Bunkle to seek members bill on exemplary damages

14 May 2001

Phillida Bunkle Alliance MP today announced she will seek to introduce a Member’s Bill to change the legal criteria for exemplary damages following the Court of Appeal decision on Patient A.

The Court of Appeal decision released yesterday said that exemplary damages could only apply when the person persisted in the risky action despite knowing the harm it would cause.

"This sets the standard so high it effectively prevents actions for such damages," said Phillida Bunkle Alliance MP.

The minority opinion by Judge Thomas said, "To require the wrongdoer to be subjectively aware of the risk is to effectively … eliminate any sensible notion that exemplary damages can be awarded in negligence, however flagrant the negligent conduct might be."

Phillida Bunkle said, "Such a standard is virtually impossible to reach. Judge Cartwright found in her recommendations that the standard should not depend on what a professional person happens to know about the risks, but on what a properly trained and competent professional ought to have known.

"The issue should be about professional standards and competence not on subjective frame of mind.

"The law needs to be changed to protect the health and wellbeing of people and risks resulting from a lack of professional standards is not acceptable," said Phillida Bunkle.

Phillida Bunkle also today successfully introduced a motion that was passed by the House, expressing concern and sympathy for Patient A.

The motion read "This House expresses its concern and sympathy for the woman known as 'Patient A', whose cancer and subsequent disability resulted from repeated misread cervical smears some of which were undertaken by the National Cervical Screening Programme."


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