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News - July 2014

Announcement: Geoffrey Hall - 22 July 2014

Announcement: Geoffrey Hall


It is with great sadness that Medical Negligence informs readers of the unexpected death of its founding editor, Geoffrey Hall, on 1 July 2014. One of our readers, a friend and associate of Geoffrey, wrote as follows:


“Geoffrey Hall qualified as a barrister but his first love was in legal publishing; his interests included litigation and insurance law. In an area which can appear dry and academic, Geoffrey managed to be entrepreneurial and inventive. In the late 1980s he brought out 3 titles covering such diverse specialist topics as insurance, banking, and aviation. However, it was the Medical Law Reports first published in 1989 that was to define the subject matter that preoccupied him for the next quarter of a century.


In the 1980s there was a growing recognition that litigation was developing and the subject matter of the litigation deserved specialist publication. Geoffrey spotted the opportunity - the publication Medical Law Reports in 1989 exactly addressed the needs of the time and coincided with the growth of medical negligence litigation as an economic activity. There were 10 issues per year ensuring that subscribers were kept up to date. He anticipated a proliferation of other medico legal publications. In 1990 Powers and Harris published the first edition of their leading practitioner’s text book Medical Negligence.  In 1991 Michael Jones published his excellent and somewhat academic text, also called Medical Negligence.


In 1993 Geoffrey was fortunate to secure Margaret Puxon QC FRCOG as consulting editor. Her formidable intellect and fierce independence shone through in her case commentaries. Geoffrey showed courage and foresight in publishing her criticisms of the excesses of civil legal aid in the1990s. Lawyers used to boast that our legal aid system was the envy of the world – well, where else could the taxpayers’ millions be spent for so little benefit, all in the name of justice and with no scrutiny. Two decades later legal aid was all but abolished in clinical negligence and yet the volume of litigation is said to be growing!    


Medical Law Reports was sold but in January 1998 Geoffrey published Medical Litigation, a hard copy news bulletin that covered news, case reports, and Parliamentary proceedings; it even had a gossip column.


Geoffrey though not a young man was to embrace new technology and republish the bulletin as an online internet journal Medical Negligence in 2005. The main component was legal reporting – Geoffrey’s headnotes reflected his gift for legal case reporting, showing attention to detail but he also added extras such as judicial comment on expert witness and the performance of counsel.


In a subject as politicised and polarised (and with accompanying vested interests) as medical litigation Geoffrey was rare and special – fiercely independent, he did not take sides. His work was to publish the facts and the law. He would occasionally write opinion pieces which though not necessarily popular were clearly ahead of their time as they have become mainstream policy and current thinking. Always fair and balanced, he had a willingness to support the vulnerable, the underdog and the unrepresented. His passion was for widening access to justice for all by making information available – litigants in person could enjoy free access to the website but lawyers had to pay!


Geoffrey will be sorely missed professionally for his warmth, generosity, and independence of spirit. My hope is that his work and legacy will continue – there is a need for a light in clinical negligence that shines to provide not only superb report and news but exposes poor legislation, fallacious argument, vested interests, and wasted public funds.  


He was also a loving family man and was devoted to his grandchildren. Our thoughts are with Jean, Geoffrey’s widow, and his family during this difficult time.”


AB 8 July 2014


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