Breen v Williams; 6 Sep 1996

References: (1996) 186 CLR 71, [1996] HCA 57
Links: Austlii
Coram: Brennan CJ, Dawson, Toohey, Gaudron, McHugh, Gummow JJ
High Court of Australia – Medicine – Doctor/patient relationship – Medical records – Patient’s right to access – Contractual right – Doctor’s duty to act in patient’s ‘best interests’ with utmost good faith and loyalty – Patient’s proprietary right or interest in information contained in records – Whether doctor under fiduciary duty to grant access – ‘Right to know’.
Brendan CJ said that fiduciary duties could arise either from agency or from a relationship of ascendancy or influence by one party over another, or dependence or trust on the part of that other. An obvious example of the ‘agency’ type of situation was the case where a person received money or other property for and on behalf of or as trustee of another person: ‘It is plain that fiduciary duties may well arise as aspects of a commercial relationship. Moreover, it is clear that legal and equitable rights and remedies are capable of co-existence, even in a single transaction.’
This case is cited by:

  • Cited – AIB Group (UK) Plc -v- Mark Redler & Co Solicitors SC (Bailii, [2014] UKSC 58, [2014] 3 WLR 1367, [2014] WLR(D) 466, WLRD, Bailii Summary, UKSC 2013/0052, SC, SC Summary)
    The court was asked as to the remedy available to the appellant bank against the respondent, a firm of solicitors, for breach of the solicitors’ custodial duties in respect of money entrusted to them for the purpose of completing a loan which was to . .

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Last Update: 06-Nov-15 Ref: 554212