Case study: Dr Bawa-Gaba – guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence

Janine Mcilwraith1, Jacob Sutton1

1Slater & Gordon Lawyers, Melbourne, Australia

This paper will examine the UK case of a junior doctor whom, as a result of her clinical care of a young boy, was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. This talk will look at the facts of the case and the media attention it received and pose the question whether criminal prosecution of individual doctors in a setting of multiple system failures is ethical and just. It will also examine criminal prosecutions of doctors in Australia to date in an attempt to draw conclusions as to whether a similar situation could arise here.


Janine is a health lawyer who works as a Principal Lawyer with Slater & Gordon, in their Medical Law Department. She has co-authored two prominent medical law texts, Health Care and the Law (4th, 5th & 6th editions) and Australian Medical Liability (1st & 2nd editions). In addition Janine co-authored the National Disability Insurance Scheme Handbook and has written and edited a number of chapters for Halsbury’s Laws of Australia focusing on professional negligence and professional registration in the health arena and is also the author of the chapter on surrogacy. Janine is the general editor for Australian Civil Liability Bulletin. Janine co-taught Medical Law and Public Health Law at University of Western Sydney in 2014. In 2016 Janine took on the role of Sessional Senior Fellow at Monash University teaching Health Law to Masters and JD students. Janine is also Adjunct Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at University of New England.

Jacob Sutton is a solicitor who has practiced exclusively in Medical Law at Slater and Gordon Lawyers since 2016. He has acted in litigated matters concerning all areas of healthcare, including delays in diagnosis and diagnosis errors (particularly relating to cancer), surgical misadventure, obstetrics and injuries sustained during treatment from allied health professionals.

About the Association

The Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law (AABHL) was formed in 2009.

It encourages open discussion and debate on a range of bioethical issues, providing a place where people can ask difficult questions about ideas and practices associated with health and illness, biomedical research and human values.

The AABHL seeks to foster a distinctive Australasian voice in bioethics, and provide opportunities for international engagement through its membership, journal and conferences.

Members come from all the contributing humanities, social science and science disciplines that make up contemporary bioethics.

Many members have cross-disciplinary interests and all seek to broaden the dialogues in which all members of the wider community ultimately have an interest.

The AABHL is a supportive, creative and challenging community that provides a rich source of continuing academic refreshment and renewal.

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