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Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds LLOYD ENGLAND: If you’re asked to sign a waiver, what sorts of things should you be looking for?

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds ROSS HYAMS: You need to know what rights you’re giving away, straight away. So you need to know what you’re getting yourself / are you giving up the opportunity later to sue somebody, for example? Are you agreeing to be injured or damaged in some way? You need to know exactly what you are agreeing to give up when you sign a waiver.

Skip to 0 minutes and 26 seconds LLOYD ENGLAND: And what if you didn’t like certain terms of the waiver?

Skip to 0 minutes and 30 seconds ROSS HYAMS: Walk away or renegotiate. So cross it out. I mean if you don’t agree with it, cross it out and see whether the other party will accept the crossing out. Or renegotiate it. Say that I don’t accept that. Or walk away. If it’s fundamental, walk away.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds LLOYD ENGLAND: I mean, I suppose it’s essentially talking about consent and consenting to what you agree to. This often arises in medical scenarios. Often you’re asked to sign a consent form. What if you do sign a consent form and then something goes wrong?

Skip to 1 minute and 1 second ROSS HYAMS: It depends what you consented to. You’re not going to consent to serious injury, for example. And if the person who was operating on you, who was meant to be performing whatever it is on you, is negligent, you don’t agree to negligence. So you might be consenting to the fact that the anaesthetic might make you feel sick afterwards, but you’re not consenting to the fact that the anaesthetic might kill you, for example. Or that the surgeon is allowed to be negligent on the way they operate on you. So you won’t be giving up all your rights. You have to make sure you know what you are giving up, though.

Skip to 1 minute and 33 seconds LLOYD ENGLAND: What recourse do you have when dealing with professionals if things don’t go well?

Skip to 1 minute and 40 seconds ROSS HYAMS: Well, again, before we go rushing off to lawyers, there are often internal review procedures. So most places that you are going to be dealing with have either an ombudsman or some sort of review procedure that you can take your complaint to. And they’re internal procedures, they’re independent bodies who will assist you in working your way through the problem, who will negotiate for you and with you. And if that doesn’t succeed in satisfying your needs, then you can go externally to other processes, and that’s often where you end up going to see a lawyer. But find out with the internal procedures are first because they’ll be aimed at resolving your dispute.

Skip to 2 minutes and 19 seconds LLOYD ENGLAND: Thank you.

The Ross Hyams Perspective

Ross Hyams is an educator and law practitioner. Here, Ross shares with Lloyd his unique perspective on the essential things you need to know about torts law.

We know that we all have a duty to our neighbour, and they have a duty towards us in return. When you stop and think about it, risk and consent is really a key part of our everyday lives.

There are lots of times in the everyday world when you might be asked to waive or give-up or exclude your rights to seek a legal remedy by signing a document. Other times, you will be asked for your informed consent before someone engages in an activity that places you at risk.

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Go to Downloads to access a checklist of criminal law essentials or See also for links to resources that relate to this topic.

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Law for Non-Lawyers: Introduction to Law

Monash University