Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Committee Holds Public Hearings on State Liability Amendment Bill

Parliament– The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services today held public hearings on the State Liability Amendment Bill.

Committee Chairperson Ms Madipoane Refiloe Moremadi Mothapo said that, among other things, the Bill provides for structured settlements for the satisfaction of claims against the state as a result of wrongful medical treatment of persons by servants of the state. Several organisations and private individuals made inputs, including the Law Society of South Africa, the Legal Resource Centre, the South African Medical Malpractice Lawyers Association, the South African Orthopaedic Association, Western Cape Provincial Government and the South African Society of Anaesthesiologist.

Mr James Wewese, a law student, disagreed with the amendment Bill, saying that it is unfair to take away lump sum or installment payments to implement periodic payments is unfair. In another private submission, Dr Jessica Rucell rejected the amendment in its entirety, as it does not address sexual and reproductive health malpractice. She said the amendment would disproportionately burden the poor, especially women and families.

The committee heard from the Law Society of South Africa that the proposed amendments are a result of the surge in medico-legal claims. The committee further heard that about 4 000 obstetric claims and 3 000 cerebral palsy claims are part of the concern. Several presenters indicated that the Bill is unconstitutional, while others indicated that the Bill appears to focus on financial aspects, rather than the harm women or the indigent suffer due to medical negligence.

The South African Orthopaedic Association called for intervention in both the public and private sector. The Western Cape Provincial Department said the Bill does not guarantee that parents or caregivers will spend the money given for the care of the claimant on what it is intended for. The committee also heard obstetricians pay about R1 million per annum for insurance.



Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

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