Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Should lost autonomy be recognised as actionable damage in medical negligence cases?
Author: Purshouse, Craig Jonathan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 5961
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2016
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
It has been suggested by some commentators that the ‘real’ damage (as opposed to that pleaded) in the cases of Rees v Darlington Memorial Hospital NHS Trust [2004] 1 AC 309 and Chester v Afshar [2005] 1 AC 134 was the claimant’s lost autonomy. Arguments have consequently been put forward that lost autonomy either already is or should be recognised as a new form of actionable damage in medical negligence cases. Given the value placed on respecting patient autonomy in medical law and bioethics, it might be thought that such a development should be welcomed. But if lost autonomy is accepted as a new form of damage in negligence, it will not be confined to the two scenarios that were present in those cases and it may be inconsistent with other established negligence principles. This thesis considers whether lost autonomy ought to be recognised as a new form of damage in negligence and concludes that it should not. A close textual analysis of Rees and Chester is undertaken in order to determine whether a ‘lost autonomy’ analysis actually provides the best explanation of those two cases. I then look at how the concepts of autonomy and harm should be understood to determine whether, ethically speaking, to interfere with someone’s autonomy is to cause them harm. The final part of the thesis considers important doctrinal tort law considerations that have been overlooked in the medical law literature. I argue that the nature of autonomy means that it cannot coherently be considered actionable damage within the tort of negligence and that recognising a duty of care to avoid interfering with people’s autonomy would be inconsistent with the restrictive approach the courts take to recovery for psychiatric injury and economic loss. My ultimate conclusion is that the benefits of allowing such claims do not outweigh the undermining of established principles that would ensue if lost autonomy were recognised as a form of actionable damage in negligence.
Supervisor: Devaney, Sarah ; Bennett, Rebecca Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: autonomy ; negligence ; tort law ; medical law ; harm ; bioethics