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Committee rejects medico-legal Bill

Publish date: 27 November 2023
Issue Number: 1055
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa

Parliament’s Justice & Correctional Services Committee has rejected a Bill aimed at structuring the payment of medico-legal claims against the state as being undesirable, reports BusinessLIVE. The State Liability Amendment Bill was intended by government as an interim measure to address rising medico-legal claims against the state, pending the outcome of a larger investigation into medico-legal claims by the SA Law Reform Commission (SALRC). The Bill, which has been in the pipeline for about five years, proposed to replace lump-sum payments for medical negligence in favour of periodic payments and having public healthcare facilities render future medical care instead of awarding monetary damages. Medico-legal claims are a mounting problem for the state with provinces facing contingent liabilities for medico-legal claims in excess of $3.6bn in 2022/23 – equivalent to 75% of the health budget for that year. In a report on the Bill adopted on Friday that will be submitted to the National Assembly for approval, the committee noted that it had been informed that the SALRC’s report is close to being finalised. The commission finalised a discussion paper on medico-legal claims for publication for public comment during 2021. The commission’s interim proposals included introduction of structured settlements and provision of future healthcare needs in the public sector instead of paying upfront lump sum settlements covering care in the private sector. ‘The committee is not in favour of piecemeal amendments to legislation and, therefore, recommends that legislation to amend the State Liability Act be tabled once the SALRC has concluded its investigations and after meaningful consultation with stakeholders, including the National Treasury and the Department of Health,’ the report said. Parliament sent the 2018 Bill back to the Departments of Health and Justice in 2021 for further work.

Full BusinessLIVE report

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