- A recent case confirmed the general principle that solicitors do not owe a third party a duty of care. A solicitor’s duty is owed solely to their own client and the Court.
- There are exceptions to this general principle.
- Even if a tortious duty is found, a third party’s claim could be barred by operation of advocates’ immunity.
The case of Collins v Metro North Hospital and Health Service & Ors  QSC 194 examined the question of whether a legal representative appearing in Court for one party owes a duty of care to the opposing party.
Mr Collins, a self-represented plaintiff, brought proceedings against a hospital that was part of the Queensland health service (‘the Hospital’) and two barristers, Mr McMillan and Mr Green.
The judgment concerned a strike out application by the defendants.
Claim against Mr McMillan
Mr McMillan appeared for the State of Queensland in prior proceedings that the plaintiff brought against the State of Queensland. In those proceedings, the plaintiff had sought an urgent date for mediation. The plaintiff alleged that Mr McMillan, in opposing the application for an urgent mediation, caused him a loss of life expectancy and mental health issues because the plaintiff was unable to engage in chemotherapy for a period due to this conduct.