Wallace v Kam

Loane Skene, ‘Duty to Warn and Causation: Wallace v Kam’ (8 July 2013).

In Wallace v Kam, the High Court unanimously dismissed an appeal by Mr Wallace against the NSW Court of Appeal’s decision that Dr Kam had not acted negligently in failing to advise Wallace of the risks eventuating from a medical operation. Dr Kam failed to warn Wallace of two risks, one relatively minor (which eventuated and caused Wallace’s injury) and the other more serious (which did not eventuate). The High Court rejected Wallace’s argument that the NSWCA had incorrectly held that the legal cause of his injury could not be Kam’s failure to warn about the more serious risk. The High Court ruled that a doctor who fails in his or her duty to warn of a risk is only liable if that particular risk eventuates and causes the patient harm.

High Court Judgment [2012] HCA 19 8 May 2013
Result Appeal dismissed
High Court Documents Wallace v Kam
Full Court Hearing [2012] HCATrans 45 13 March 2012
Special Leave Hearing [2012] HCATrans 251 5 October 2012
Appeal from NSWCA [2012] NSWCA 82 13 April 2012
NSWSC Judgment [2010] NSWSC 518 9 July 2010