The Scope of Protection Provided by Apology Legislation in Canada with Emphasis on the Patient-Health Care Provider Relationship

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Prior Apologies, Proof of Fault, Liability, Apology Legislation


The question of whether prior apologies should be admissible in legal proceedings as proof of fault or liability has been debated in every Canadian province and territory within the last decade. As a result all but two jurisdictions, whether through stand-alone statutes or amendments to existing legislation, have limited, at least to some degree, the extent to which apologies can be used in subsequent proceedings. There is a growing body of literature on apologies,' much of it written from a health practitioner, philosophical, ethical, or conflict resolution perspective, but less in the way of ongoing legal analysis. In terms of legal analysis, there are only a handful of academic articles, and a number of commentaries, frequently by practising lawyers in response to the passage of apology legislation in their province or territory. As well, there are several brief judicial decisions, which we will discuss below.