Informed Consent Comes to Britain

Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date



Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Montgomery v Lanakshire Health Board, Clinical Negligence, Medical Information, Patient Expectations, Informed Consent


The judgment earlier this year of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in Montgomery v. Lanarkshire Health Board' has been described by British commentators as a "landmark decision" and "the most important clinical negligence case in 30 . . . years". Its significance in Canada will be considerably less than that. This is not only because U.K. court decisions, influential though they sometimes still are, lack any direct authority here, but also because the case articulates a position that Canadian courts arrived at 35 years ago in Reibl v. Hughes. Montgomery's principal holding is that in determining what information about treatment options doctors must convey to their patients in order to ensure valid consent courts should look not to the practice of physicians but to the legitimate expectations of patients.