Date: Thu, 10 May 2007 13:55
From: Robert Stevens
Subject: Good news/bad news
"Hedley, Steve" writes:
No doubt it would be possible to frame letters in a standard way which ensured that no reasonable person would rely on them, but is it really in the NHS's best interests to do this?
To be effective it is not necessary to draft the disclaimer in such terms that no reasonable person would rely upon the statement made. The lucky/unlucky guy may be behaving perfectly rationally according to the best evidence available to him in the letter (as he said on the telly "anyone would have done the same") even if there is a disclaimer as to liability for consequential economic loss.
I don't think the disclaimer would be effective if, because of the misstatement, he declined medical treatment which, we now know, would have saved his life. Although UCTA is one answer why not, I don't think that is necessary. If the misstatement results in physical harm he doesn't have to rely upon any assumption of responsibility. So, just as putting a neon sign on the top of my car saying "I hereby disclaim all responsibility towards pedestrians I carelessly run over" won't assist me in a claim made by someone who I injure even if they have read the sign, it won't help in the case of the misstatement where the loss is not 'purely' economic.
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