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Gregg V. Scott Notes

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GREGG V. SCOTT FACTS My Lords, this is an action against a doctor for negligence in failing to recognise that his patient might have cancer. When Mr Gregg showed Dr Scott a lump under his arm, the doctor told him it was a collection of fatty tissues. That was the most likely explanation but unfortunately it was wrong. Mr Gregg had cancer of a lymph gland. This was discovered a year later, when another GP referred him to a hospital for examination. By that time, the tumour had spread into his chest. He suffered a good deal of pain and had to undergo a particularly debilitating course of high-dose chemotherapy. The treatment temporarily destroyed the tumour but was followed by a relapse which left Mr Gregg with a poor prospect of survival. Mr Gregg alleged in his particulars of claim that Dr Scott ought to have referred him to a hospital for examination. His "particulars of pain and injury" alleged that if he had been diagnosed earlier "there would have been a very high likelihood of cure". QUESTION The question which has given rise to this appeal is whether Dr Scott's negligence caused injury to Mr Gregg. As I have said, the injury of which he complained was that the delay had reduced his prospect of a cure to less than 50%. HOLDING The Quantification argument In the Court of Appeal Mr Gregg's counsel advanced two arguments. The first was that Mr Gregg had proved that the delay had caused him injury because the judge found that if he had been treated earlier, the cancer would probably not have spread as quickly as it did. He was entitled to compensation for this injury and that should include the reduction in his chances of survival. The second argument was that quite apart from any other injury, the reduction in his chances of survival was itself a compensatable head of damage. Quantification Argument Rejected The first argument is based upon the well-established principle that in quantifying the loss likely to have been caused by the defendant's wrongful act, the court will take into account possibilities, even though they do not amount to probabilities: Mallett v McMonagle [1970] AC 166, 176. A common example is the possibility that a claimant who has been injured by the defendant will suffer some complication such as arthritis in a damaged joint. This principle applies when the extent of the loss

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