LAWHONS 722 - Medico-Legal Problems

Credit Points: 20 points
Offered: Full-year
Contact Hours: Lectures - 2 hours per week
Coordinator: Professor Jo Manning

Course Description

First Semester

In the first semester, classes will be led by me on topics selected by me, and will consist of discussion of cases and other materials distributed in the form of a Casebook. Readings from these will be assigned prior to the class at which they will be discussed. The discussion in class centres around the assigned materials so it is essential that it is read beforehand.

The topics covered in the first semester of the course will include some/all of the following, depending on time:

  • Readings on the “unfortunate experiment” at National Women’s Hospital, the Cartwright Inquiry and Report, and commentary thereon. An introduction to the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights
  • An introduction to the accountability regime via the Crimes Act 1961 (manslaughter), the Health and Disability Commissioner’s jurisdiction, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, and the Human Rights Review Tribunal
  • An introduction to the fundamental concepts of consent to medical treatment, at common law and pursuant to the Code of Health and DisabilityServices Consumers’  Rights
  • Legal issues related to consent to treatment of incompetent adults
  • Legal issues relating to rationing of health services
  • An introduction to the legal issues arising from assisted dying and withdrawal of life prolonging treatment

Second Semester

In the second semester students will present a 50-minute seminar to the class on their research project, on which they are writing their research paper. Each week two students will give  presentations. Students are expected to come up with their own topic for the research project and paper. I provide a long list of suggested topics, although students are free to suggest for my approval any topic within the medical law and ethics field which interests them.

In 2018 students researched a broad range of topics. Examples included whether vaccination should be compulsory, issues in cosmetic surgery, Pharmac’s allocation of prescription medicines, withholding and withdrawing of life supporting treatments, adolescents refusing life prolonging treatments, whether non-disclosure of HIV+ status to a sexual partner should be  criminalised.


Evaluation consists of 100% on-course assessment, consisting of:

  1. Honours seminar paper (maximum 10,000 words) - 70%;
  2. An oral presentation of your seminar - 20%;
  3. Class contribution and participation - 10%.