Clinical Negligence & Healthcare

"Howse Williams has the can-do attitude.  Whatever the issue is, the team can handle it well.  They are always one step ahead."  Client testimonial in Chambers and Partners 2024


Our medico-legal team advises doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, physiotherapists, pharmacists, chiropractors, osteopaths and their indemnity providers and other healthcare professionals. We also advise private hospitals, medical group practices, corporate healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies on issues relating to the import and distribution of drugs and pharmaceutical products, drug liability claims and other regulatory matters.

Our team has unrivalled expertise and is widely respected as being a leader in medico-legal and pharmaceutical markets in Hong Kong. Two of our partners are dual-qualified as lawyers and medical practitioners.


Key areas of practice include: 



  • Clinical negligence claims against doctors, dentists and private hospitals including high value obstetric cases, brain damage cases and fatality claims. We secure early discontinuance of frivolous claims. We represent clients in the District Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and Court of Final Appeal.
  • Department of Health investigations, particularly sentinel event investigations arising from adverse incidents. We assist the doctor and sometimes the hospital prior to any interview. This includes the preparation of medical reports and meeting with various staff members.
  • Medical Council and Dental Council matters. We have an impressive track record of disposing of cases at the Preliminary Investigation Committee. If a case is referred to the inquiry stage we represent the doctor ourselves at the inquiry (as opposed to routinely instructing barristers).
  • Education and Accreditation Committee issues such as restriction or withdrawal of the specialist registration for doctors.
  • Coroner’s inquests arising from patient deaths. We usually undertake our own advocacy at the inquests and we are well known to the coroners.
  • Criminal investigations and proceedings such as manslaughter, indecent assault and fraud – we attend police interviews, ICAC interviews and assist with cautioned statements.
  • Dangerous drug prosecutions and Magistrate Court hearings.
  • Mental Health Tribunal work. Dr David Kan has served as a member of the Guardianship Board and has expertise in handling Guardianship Board matters and applications under the Mental Health Ordinance.
  • Judicial Reviews.
  • Mediation – two of our team's lawyers are accredited mediators and are called on to mediate clinical disputes. Where appropriate, our team use mediation to resolve claims for negligence.
  • General legal and ethical advisory work on a wide range of matters such as confidentiality, informed consent, data protection legislation, practice promotion and advertising.
  • Legal ramifications of reproductive technology treatment, particularly sex selection and surrogacy.
  • Drafting risk assessment policies within clinics and hospitals on high risk areas of clinical management.
  • Defamation and libel proceedings in the medical field.


Pharmaceutical Expertise

We advise biotech and pharmaceutical companies, and other organisations, on a variety of matters including:


  • Product liability claims for defective medical and pharmaceutical products including consequential economic loss.
  • Advising pharmaceutical companies on clinical trials (particularly with adverse events/patient harm)
  • Assisting with the complex regulatory framework for registering, importing and selling drugs
  • Drafting distribution agreements with various parties such as importers and distributors.
  • Contractual claims for breach of warranty and civil claims for compensation
  • Representing pharmaceutical companies in the Courts for breach of strict liability offences concerning the supply of pharmaceutical products.
  • Intellectual Property matters are advised on by our specialist IP team.


Medico-legal Employment

Our healthcare team works closely with Howse Williams' specialist employment team to advise on sensitive areas such as:


  • Staff grievance investigations and hearings within the clinical environment.
  • Appeals of healthcare workers facing disciplinary sanctions such as warnings, suspension, stoppage of increment and removals.
  • Other employment related matters such as unfavourable and prejudicial references and revocation of admission privileges.
  • Media guidance including press releases, following high profile staff disputes/incidents where patients have been harmed.
  • Advice upon staff recruitment, contract terms, transfers, remuneration, terminations, redundancies, minimum wage, discrimination and other general employment issues applicable to the healthcare industry.


Regulatory Advice

We have provided medico-legal regulatory advice to a wide range of individuals and entities on issues including:


  • The categorisation of medical devices and drafting of distribution agreements for medical device manufacturers.
  • Advising how the Hong Kong statutory pharmaceuticals regime affects veterinary surgeons and veterinary product importers / distributors.
  • Drafting end-user and physician-user agreements for healthcare apps.
  • Advising medical start-ups on regulatory, employment, property and corporate structuring issues.
  • Packaging requirements for pharmaceutical / cosmeceutical products.
  • Advising healthcare companies on relationships with medical and dental professionals.
  • Guiding medical device companies and healthcare companies on legal issues affecting proposed marketing initiatives.

Key Partners:

Chris Howse; David Kan; Bernard Murphy; Oonagh Toner; Alison Scott; Maureen Liu; Carmen Fung; Hiu Yee Chung