26 February, 2020

Vincent Friel v Dr Brown [2020] CSIH 7

Reclaiming Motion on the effect of S10 of the Law Reforms (Misc Prov) (Scotland) Act 1968 and what constitutes abuse of process in Scotland.

The defender was the pursuer’s General Medical Practitioner.  The action was based upon his alleged negligent prescription of a drug. The pursuer averred that the drug caused him to lose  consciousness while driving. This resulted in a collision on a pedestrian crossing which left one person dead and another seriously injured. The interlocutor, which was pronounced after a debate on the Procedure Roll, stated that the dismissal was on the basis that the action was “an abuse of process”. The reasoning behind that was that the pursuer had been convicted of causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving under respectively sections 1 and 1A of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The jury’s verdict involved a rejection of the pursuer’s special defence of automatism; viz. that he had lost consciousness prior to the accident.

Held that action is not abuse of power. Reclaiming motion is in substance refused and action dismissed.

Lauren Sutherland QC for Pursuer and Reclaimer.

Opinion of First Division can be found here

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