Case Brief - Chester v Afshar

Topics: Appeal, Surgery, Law Pages: 3 (767 words) Published: April 24, 2014
Chester v Afshar - Case brief
1) Title and Citation
Chester v Afshar [2004] UKHL 41
Plaintiff: ChesterDefendant: Afshar
Court: House of Lords
Judges: Lord Steyn, Lord Hope, Lord Walker, Lord Bingham and Lord Hoffmann 2) Facts of the case
Miss Chester, the plaintiff, suffered from low back pain since 1988. During 1994, Miss Chester was referred to Mr. Afshar, a neurosurgeon, who happens to be the defendant. The defendant advised the plaintiff to undergo an elective lumbar surgical procedure, which is a surgical procedure on her spine. However, there was a 1% - 2% chance that the surgical procedure could lead to serious neurological damage. The defendant failed to inform the plaintiff about the risk, although this risk was clearly recognized by neurosurgeons. After performing the surgical procedure, the plaintiff suffered from serious neurological damage.

3) Issue presented
Factual issues: Would the injury have occurred if Mr. Afshar had informed Miss Chester about the risks involved? Legal issues: What is the relevant question of causation? Should normal principles of causation be departed for reasons of justice? Plaintiff’s argument: It is the duty of the surgeon to inform the patient about any risks associated with the surgical procedure. Failure to perform as such would result in the surgeon being liable if the inherit risk materialized.

Defendant’s argument: The surgical procedure was conducted in the most professional manner, as the surgeon did not perform carelessly. Thus, the surgeon did not increase the risk and should not be held liable.

4) Decision/ Result
It was a split decision, 3:2 (Lord Bingham & Lord Hoffman dissenting). The appeal was dismiss, thus the court was in favor of the plaintiff.

5) Reasoning/ Rationale
During the original trial, the judge found that the plaintiff would have not undergone the surgical procedure so soon, if she had knew...
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