Read the Law Society Gazette repot on the High Court judgement
Paul McNeil represents the family of Dr Somoye, a community paediatrician, who died following complications of a myomectomy procedure at the Peterborough hospital. She left a husband and 16-year-old daughter, as well as her parents in Nigeria.
Various internal investigations criticised Dr Somoye's follow-up care and an inquest was ordered. Immediately before the inquest, the defendant rightly admitted liability - because it wanted to avoid paying the costs of the family’s legal representation at the hearing. But following evidence given at the inquest, the trust withdrew that admission. This was devastating for the family coming such a long time after the initial admission.
We immediately issued proceedings and applied for judgement which the trust resisted. The court found that even though the trust might have a defence, it was in the interests of justice that the admission be adhered to. This was a huge relief for the family.
Following judgement, Paul said:
'It was wrong for the North West Anglia NHS trust to admit liability just before the inquest to save costs, and then later withdraw it.
'If this cynical practice became commonplace, many families would be seriously disadvantaged at inquest hearings, because they would accept the admission and not be legally represented.
'It is very important that the civil courts have taken a robust view and hopefully no other bereaved family will be put through such traumatic uncertainty and delay.'
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