The Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT) has rejected a claim for breach of privacy from a patient after their doctor passed information concerning the patient’s lack of mental capacity to the patient’s lawyer. The brother of a man with Parkinson’s disease and dementia contacted the patient’s doctor concerned that his brother’s ability to make decisions had diminished. He also informed the doctor of the contact details of patient’s lawyer who held an Enduring Power of Attorney in relation to Property, was executor of his Will, and a director of his trustee company. However, the doctor was advised by the patient’s partner not to contact his lawyer.

The doctor proceeded to contact the lawyer and attached a specialist’s medical report in his correspondence, which stated that the man was unable to make well-informed decisions. The patient considers that the doctor did not take reasonable steps to ensure the information was accurate and that the disclosure was unjustified. He therefore made a claim to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

While he argued that it was unreasonable for the doctor to rely on the physician’s report without conducting a face-to-face assessment, the Tribunal found that there was no evidence that this was a necessary step for a medical professional. There was also no evidence that the information in the report was inaccurate.

The Tribunal also found that a breach of privacy did not occur because the doctor believed on reasonable grounds that the lawyer was acting lawfully on the man’s behalf and this was supported by documents provided by the lawyer to the doctor. The Enduring Power of Attorney also specifically stated that it was not to be revoked if the man became mentally incapacitated. Additionally, it was only the man’s partner, and not the man himself, who advised the doctor not to contact his lawyer.


Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Alan Knowsley