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Are Legal 'Remedies' Killing the Patients? Promoting Obstetrical Clinical Negligence Reform in the U.K.

This thesis was originally borne of an interest in torts law, specifically clinical negligence, and the ‘compensation culture’ debate; and a belief that the latter had led to the politicisation of the former to the detriment of claimants. It focuses on obstetrical clinical negligence: cases which arise following the allegedly negligent actions of healthcare professionals before, during or immediately after birth, resulting in injury to women, infants or, more rarely, their partners/fathers.  Such claims constitute the second largest volume of cases in clinical negligence overall but represent the highest value.[1] As such, they are of concern to those who argue that NHS damages (and, more broadly, all negligence compensation) must be reduced. This area of law piqued my personal interests in gender, feminism and reproductive health. This thesis intends to tease out the role that feminism, as a theory and as an outcome, could play in the future development of obstetrical clinical negligence law and aims to posit a new legal framework for such cases.

Born in London, I spent my formative years in rural Co. Limerick, Ireland. I attended University College Cork, reading for a degree in History and Philosophy. During this time I was awarded several scholarships (outlined below), including one which allowed for a year’s postgraduate study at Boston College. I returned to Cork to acquire a teaching diploma and taught at secondary level for several years before diverting into Law. I received a distinction in the Masters of Legal Science (MLegSc) at Queen’s University Belfast and secured DEL funding to realise my dreams of pursuing a PhD. When not ensconced in the library, I like to read anything non-law related or binge-watch the latest legal or medical drama on Netflix while pretending to myself that this counts as research.


Professor Thérèse Murphy


Dr David Capper


Torts Law; Feminism; Access to Justice; Medical Law; Healthcare Law; Damages


2014 – Present: Department for Employment and Learning: PhD fees and stipend for three years.

2005 - 2006: The Michael J. McEnery Memorial Prize in Irish History: fees and stipend (€4000)

2004-2005: The Fr. Martin Harney S.J Graduate Fellowship to Boston College: fees ($42,000) and stipend ($10,000)

2004: The John B. O’Brien Annual Prize (€500) for best undergraduate dissertation.

2002: Scholar of the College: title for best result in first-year examinations.


‘Bad policy and negligent law: tort and the ‘Compensation Culture’ in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012’ [2015] 1 York Policy Review 1.

‘Money for Nothing and Cheques for Free?: Negligence and the Perceived 'Compensation Culture'’ [2014] 2 UK L. Student Rev. 74

Conference presentations

April 2015: IGLRC Conference, Kings College London'

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012: A curb on the ‘Compensation Culture’?

[1] Rob Heywood, ‘Litigating labour: Condoning unreasonable risk-taking in childbirth?’ (2015) 44 Common Law World Review 28, 30.