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Road legislation in medical negligence: Making tort legislation straightforward for the individuals

Street Law is a method of imparting practical law to the general public through interactive methods. In February of this year, iProbono (Bangladesh) hosted a series of virtual road law workshops to raise awareness of the legal aspects of medical negligence in Bangladesh. This was the first time street rights sessions were held on virtual platforms in Bangladesh. Over a hundred university students and non-lawyers took part in the four-part series of workshops to learn about health rights, violations and legal remedies in Bangladesh. The workshops were held in Bangla.

Medical negligence is a major social and legal challenge for Bangladesh, but it is not discussed as often as other concerns. While we often see news of health professionals and institutions showing a lack of care in treating patients, medical negligence is not a term that people easily recognize, let alone make a criminal offense. The prevailing ambiguities, misunderstandings, questions and conflicting medical opinions pose serious obstacles to the realization of health rights in Bangladesh. To meet this challenge, iProbono (Bangladesh) has decided to hold a series of workshops on these topics. iProbono used basic audience feedback to design the sessions, where potential attendees expressed their interest in learning more about tort law, its application in the health sector and the legal remedies available in Bangladesh. Since the street law sessions were geared towards these requirements, the participants were intensively involved in the discussions.

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Each session had an icebreaker part, a brainstorming part and short presentations with videos, pictures, diagrams, etc .; There was then some exercises and a question and answer session that allowed participants to clear up any specific questions / confusions they may have had. It should be noted that the first session introduced negligence as an injustice, and later sessions dealt with medical negligence and its specific dimensions. Participants could easily join the discussions.

The series began with a discussion of tort, where many participants wanted to know whether a tort was a public or a private wrong. To make it easier for learners to understand, the street attorneys used role-play games about illegal detention and smoking in public places as examples of different types of tort. Another common question asked by participants was the distinction between criminal fraud and tort. The answer was that a single act can be both tort and criminal fraud. Here the determination depends on one’s own perspective. Different types of remedies could be sought in different forums for a single incident. Therefore, we can usually obtain separate remedies for financial and non-financial losses in the same case.

One point that intrigued the audience was how unintentional wrongdoing is related to negligence. At the start of the discussion, negligence was defined as a lack of attention. This can be unintentional as it always happens due to a lack of intention. No incident can be immediately designated as a crime or tort unless the guilty intent or lack of it is proven. Street Lawyers used Small Group Exercise (SGE) to explain the problem by highlighting various ambiguities and conceptual misunderstandings related to tort and crime.

The aim of this workshop on road law was not to stimulate further legal disputes, but to raise public awareness of rights and access to the justice administration system. Thus, the last two sessions introduced the audience to various financial remedial measures such as compensation and specific benefit in cases of medical negligence. The sessions also informed the audience about the activities of organizations such as iProbono, BLAST, ASK to facilitate the enforcement of rights. Various points of contact for legal advice and free legal assistance were made available to the meetings in various ways.

The Street Law Project is perhaps the most efficient way to educate ordinary people in our country about their rights and educate them about tort law. Because “Street Law” conveys a practical and virtual legal education according to the understanding of the general public. The main goal of this year’s Street Law Project was to educate people about the available remedies for criminal offenses, particularly medical negligence.

The author is a final year law student at Khulna University.

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