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Evidence needs to be shared

Breeze v Ahmad (Court of Appeal - 8 March 2005)

Mr Breeze attended Dr Ahmad complaining of chest pains; Dr Ahmad diagnosed muscular skeletal pain. Mr Breeze subsequently died of heart disease.

Mrs Breeze brought a claim against Dr Ahmad and established that he had negligently examined Mr Breeze. However, the judge at first instance found that it had not been shown that, on the balance of probabilities, Mr Breeze's sudden cardiac death would have been avoided if Dr Ahmad had acted with reasonable skill and care.

Faced with conflicting expert evidence on this issue, the judge preferred the evidence of Dr Ahmad's expert, Dr Channer, stating that it was "compellingly supported ... by recent literature'.

Mrs Breeze successfully brought an appeal on the grounds that the decision was unjust. This was due to a serious procedural or other irregularity in that the literature relied upon by Dr Channer was not produced to the court. The claimant was thus deprived of the opportunity to show Dr Channer's interpretation of the literature was inaccurate/incomplete and had he placed more weight on it than he should have.

COMMENT: It is important to ask expert witnesses to provide any literature that they have relied upon when preparing their reports, and to ensure that the literature has been correctly used and provided to all parties and the court before trial. - Michelle Guthrie, BLM London.

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