Interrogatories in medical claims

Rice v Ghabrial [2016] NSWSC 313 considered an application for leave to administer interrogatories in a medical claim. The treatment was a surgical procedure (knee replacement). The proposed interrogatories included questions as to:

  • the prior knowledge, experience and training of some defendants and their knowledge of the training and experience of the other defendants;
  • the steps taken by the first defendant to introduce the plaintiff to the other defendants and/or advise the plaintiff that it was the other defendants, or one of them, that would be performing the operation, or to warn the plaintiff of risks;
  • particularity as to the role of each of the defendants in the operation; and
  • the prosthetic device or equipment used.

The court granted leave, noting at [22] – [23]:

All of these matters are matters that are beyond the knowledge of the plaintiff, are necessary for the plaintiff’s case and would be unable to be obtained other than by the administering of interrogatories of the kind here suggested.

The interrogatories that are sought are necessary, as defined above, and there are special reasons for the administering of those interrogatories. Those special reasons include the difficulty, if not impossibility, of obtaining that information otherwise than through the administering of interrogatories and the importance of the issues between the parties.


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