Medical examinations: Collateral purpose

Although not a medical claim, Vincent v SAS Trustee Corporation [2016] NSWDC 73 is of interest for its consideration of an interlocutory application seeking an order that the claimant attend a forensic psychological examination. The application was refused.

The proposed examination on behalf of the defendant was not directed to assessment of the claimants whole person impairment (the examiner was not accredited to do so) but rather so that the claimant could submit himself for a test called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. That was apparently intended to assess the veracity of earlier statements by the claimant – or as the judge described it at [13], as an assessment of malingering.

The court appeared someone doubtful of the utility of such a test, saying at [15]:

If such a test could successfully substantiate whether a person is telling the truth or not, then one would think that that test would replace every other mechanism known to our civilisation which tests the reliability of certain statements. One could do away with oaths and affirmations. One could do away with our courts and lawyers.

The court concluded at [21]:

In my view there is no proper ground for ordering the plaintiff to attend upon an examination with Dr Batchelor merely for the purpose of having his credibility tested. His credibility can be contested in open court in the normal fashion when the plaintiff can be cross-examined about things such as inconsistent histories and the like, the traditional way in which such things have been tested for centuries.