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Medical Litigation (LAWS70225)

Graduate coursework level 7Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 7
Subject codeLAWS70225
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

2012 marked the 20th anniversary of the landmark Australian medical law decision Rogers v Whitaker. However, medical litigation remains an exceptionally vibrant and challenging field, underpinned by the rapid pace of scientific and social developments that generate new issues for the law and its ethical framework. Many of the more challenging issues are at the core of policy – birth, reproduction and death. The legal issues are fundamental – covering the existence of duties, what should be considered negligent, the challenges of legal causation and the appropriate compensation regime – all against a background of insurance affordability, the ongoing health and safety, reporting and disclosure agenda and the Australian Disability Insurance Scheme. This subject examines the framework of medical law, current challenges and issues on the horizon.

Lecturer Bill Madden is a lawyer specialising in medical litigation, the co-author of two health law texts and a regular writer and presenter on medical law topics.

Principal topics include:

  • History and incidence of medical litigation
  • The impact of recent legal and court-based reforms including mediation
  • The medical indemnity marketplace and proposed changes
  • Taking instructions from clients, access to records and interlocutory stages in litigation
  • Duty, breach of duty and statutory defences/special protections
  • Consent, informed consent and treatment errors—the legal differences
  • Causation and loss of chance
  • The importance and changing framework of expert evidence
  • Privacy and confidentiality issues
  • National regulation, conduct and crime
  • Mandatory reporting impacts
  • Coroners’ investigations and hearings.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Understand the procedure of litigation in relation to medical injuries from the time an injury first occurs to the hearing in court
  • Have examined from the perspective of both patient and health professional the investigation and clarification of issues, the gathering and admissibility of evidence, the instructions to be given to solicitors and counsel and the preparation for hearing
  • Have thought through the role of regulatory inquiries and disciplinary proceedings against health practitioners
  • Have analysed the role of coroners’ investigations and inquests in making health practitioners accountable
  • Have had regard to the role of the criminal law in health practitioners’ accountability.

Eligibility and requirements


Melbourne Law Masters Students: None

JD Students: Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS50023 Legal Method and Reasoning
Summer Term
LAWS50024 Principles of Public Law
Semester 1
LAWS50028 Constitutional Law
Semester 2
LAWS50032 Administrative Law
Semester 1
LAWS50026 Obligations
Semester 1
LAWS50029 Contracts
Semester 2



Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



Research paper (8,000 - 10,000 words) (100%) (1 August) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

A minimum of 75% attendance is a hurdle requirement.

Quotas apply to this subject

Dates & times

  • May
    Principal coordinatorBill Madden
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours24-34 hours
    Total time commitment150 hours
    Pre teaching start date 9 April 2018
    Pre teaching requirementsThe pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.
    Teaching period 7 May 2018 to 11 May 2018
    Last self-enrol date31 January 2018
    Census date 7 May 2018
    Last date to withdraw without fail22 June 2018
    Assessment period ends 1 August 2018

    May contact information


    Mr Bill Madden, Coordinator

    Email: law-masters@unimelb.edu.au
    Phone: +61 3 8344 6190
    Website: law.unimelb.edu.au

Additional delivery details

This subject has a quota of 30 students.

Enrolment is on a first come, first served basis. Waitlists are maintained for subjects that are fully subscribed.

Students should note priority of places in subjects will be given as follows:

  • To currently enrolled Graduate Diploma and Masters students with a satisfactory record in their degree
  • To other students enrolling on a single subject basis, eg Community Access Program (CAP) students, cross-institutional study and cross-faculty study.

Please refer to the Melbourne Law Masters website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Further information

Last updated: 29 March 2019