Odd and uncomfortable territory for a lawyer to touch upon…

As is now a matter of public record, I act for Saba Button and her parents in relation to her claim arising because of her terrible complications from the flu-vax in 2010.

There has been recent media interest in the fact an approach has been made to the WA State Government, seeking an ex gratia payment, given the circumstances surrounding Saba’s flu-vax.

I have stated publically that in Mick and Kirsten Button and my view, the Government has a moral obligation to Saba, quite discrete from any legal liability for compensation.

More than 1 colleague and friend (legal and otherwise) have ‘tongue in cheek’ passed comment on the heresy of a lawyer speaking about ‘moral,’ as distinct from legal obligations. I concede it is not an area in which I have any more knowledge or skill to comment than any other member of our community.

Thinking about this has however highlighted in my mind the fact that the Law ‘only’ serves to set the minimum standards of behaviour set for society; the limits of what is and is not acceptable. It says absolutely nothing and has no meaningful role in seeking to encourage our best. To define what we should hope of each other, or aspire to, as a community and individuals, rather than what is the point beyond which we will not tolerate…

Little wonder then that Law can be a depressing field to work in, from time to time. In medical negligence law, I spend my entire time focussing on whether care was below the minimum that ought be expected of our health professionals. I see nothing and have no contact with the inspirational, standard-setters in medical and other practice, defining best practice.

In any case, whether expert or not, I am convinced the Government should (though it can’t be forced to) do the right thing by Saba….