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Insights / News
Khan v Meadows raised a novel question unanswered in wrongful birth jurisprudence: if a child born with two disabilities would not have been born were it not for a doctor’s failure to advise of the risk of being born with one of those disabilities, can the mother recover the cost of both disabilities or is she restricted to those associated with the disability about which the doctor failed to advise? In Khan, the Claimant gave birth to a child with haemophilia and autism.
Before the claimant became pregnant, she consulted her GP to determine whether she was a carrier of the hereditary haemophilia gene. However, the GP negligently undertook the test and incorrectly assessed the claimant as not being a carrier. If the Claimant had known that she was a carrier of the gene, she would have undergone foetal testing for haemophilia when pregnant, and would have terminated the pregnancy if the child had haemophilia.
Both the haemophilia and autism severely impacted the claimant’s son’s life and ability to live independently. However, the issue on appeal was whether the GP was liable to compensate the Claimant for the costs associated with her son’s autism. Whilst the GP admitted liability to compensate the Claimant for the additional costs incurred by the Claimant associated with her son’s haemophilia, the respondent contested liability for the costs associated with her son’s autism, which in total amounted to £9 million.
The facts of Khan v Meadows raise important questions regarding the issue of whether factually caused loss is within the scope of the duty of care in negligence.
Lord Hodge and Lord Sales (with whom Lord Reed, Lady Black and Lord Kitchen agreed) gave the leading judgment. They found that the costs of autism were not within the scope of the GP’s duty of care and that the GP is liable only for the costs associated with haemophilia.
Eliot Woolf QC acted on behalf of the Claimant (Omedele Meadows), instructed by Jacqui Hayat at Taylor Rose MW. Eliot acted alongside Philip Havers QC from 1 Crown Office Row.
The judgment for Khan v Meadows  UKSC 21 is available here
Eliot Woolf QC specialises exclusively in the fields of Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury (domestic and international). His Clinical Negligence practice is wide ranging, representing both claimants and defendants. His Personal Injury work has a focus on catastrophic brain and spinal injury claims, military claims and foreign accident / group illness claims.