Federal Court: Liability of A Private Hospital

Decision of the Federal Court on Liability of A Private Hospital

Partners Darryl Goon and Raja Eileen Soraya together with Senior Associate Joni Jacqueline Benedict successfully reversed the finding of liability against a private hospital for the negligence of a doctor who practised there as an independent contractor.

The hospital’s liability involved arguments relating to the doctrine of non-delegable duty of care and vicarious liability. The Federal Court in its decision, delivered on 26th September 2017, agreed that while the general doctrines of non-delegable duty of care (as expounded by the Supreme Court of England in Woodland v Essex County Council [2014] 1 All ER 482) and vicarious liability (as expounded in Various Claimants v Catholic Child Welfare Society and others [2013] 2 AC 1) apply in Malaysian law, whether they would apply to a private hospital in any given case is fact sensitive.

As such, there was no general determination by the Federal Court that those doctrines applied to all private hospitals vis a vis doctors practising there as independent contractors. In so holding, the Federal Court found that the High Court and the Court of Appeal had erred in holding the private hospital liable and those judgements were overturned. Accordingly, the hospital’s appeal was allowed with costs of RM100,000.00.

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