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Bass v Ministry of Defence: Q Fever trial successfully defended

Ben Collins QC and Robert Dickason have successfully defended the Ministry of Defence in the first contested trial in the Q Fever litigation, which was widely reported in January 2019.

Private Wayne Bass contracted Q Fever, leading to Q Fever Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, during his deployment to Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2012. He was medically discharged from the Army and brought a claim for damages against the MOD on the basis that it ought to have provided him with an alternative form of antimalarial which would have protected him against both malaria and Q Fever.

He also asserted that the Management of Health and Safety in the Workplace Regulations 1999 applied during his deployment in Afghanistan because decisions relating to antimalarial provision were taken in the UK.

Rejecting the claim on all fronts, the Court held that the Regulations did not apply extraterritorially and the MOD had discharged its common law duty of care. Its assessment and investigation of the risk presented by Q Fever to its troops was reasonable. It acted in accordance with national guidance and was entitled to maintain its existing antimalarial regimen, maximising protection against malaria notwithstanding the relatively low risk presented by Q Fever.

Further, there was insufficient evidence that alternative chemoprophylaxis would in fact have protected against Q Fever or Q Fever Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

The Court’s findings will clearly have significant ramifications for the Q Fever litigation generally.

Robert’s appointment on the Attorney-General’s C Panel of Counsel continues until August 2020.

News 27 Mar, 2019

Authors

Robert Dickason

Call: 2007

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