Anita has specialised in health law since the mid 2000s. During that time she has advised on all aspects of law relevant to the health sector, including treatment issues, health information and privacy, ACC, and clinical negligence. Anita is a specialist in administrative law and judicial review, and she regularly advises public sector organisations on good decision-making, governance issues and legal risk.
One particular area of interest for Anita is the regulation of health professionals. She advises extensively on the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, the core legislation regulating health practitioners in New Zealand and she has acted for the majority of responsible authorities established under that Act on issues relating to registration, competence, fitness to practise, professional standards and discipline.
In addition to health advisory work, Anita has a litigation background, having previously spent 10 years in the litigation team at a major national law firm. As a litigator with a focus on the health sector, Anita has acted for health sector organisations in a variety of claims before various courts and tribunals, including regularly appearing in the District Court, High Court and Coroners Court.
Anita is currently completing a Master of Laws at Victoria University, Wellington.
Anita’s experience includes
- Extensive advice to health registration authorities on all aspects of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act and assisting in complex governance issues, including advising on conflicts of interest, delegation of functions and the establishment of special purpose committees. Anita has also assisted with drafting policies and guidelines and regularly provides practical training on good decision-making and statutory processes.
- Acting in statutory appeals and judicial review proceedings relating to statutory decision-makers, including a successful application to strike out a judicial review in which damages were sought against the decision-maker (Flett v Dental Council  NZHC 358).
- Regularly prosecuting professional disciplinary charges for Professional Conduct Committees before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, including acting in many cases involving practitioner’s practising without a current practising certificate; cases involving allegations of inappropriate touching; fraudulent behaviour; misuse of drugs; convictions reflecting adversely on practice; and practising while suspended for reasons relating to competence. Anita has also acted for Professional Conduct Committees in appeals to the High Court on the question of name suppression (see for example Kewene v A Professional Conduct Committee  NZHC 933). Anita has also done defence work before the Tribunal, including successfully defending a health practitioner in proceedings about the non-disclosure of an underlying health condition.
- Appearing for ACC in treatment injury appeals, including successfully defending an appeal to the High Court raising questions about the ‘accelerated progression’ of an underlying health condition. Anita also advises on the ACC regime, and the interface between ACC and litigation relating to personal injury in New Zealand. Advising on the collection, use, and disclosure of health information, including advising on the discretion to disclose a confession of sexual violation, management of inadvertent disclosure of cancer patients’ information, and the interface between the Official Information Act, Privacy Act, and the Health Information Privacy Code.
- Acting for DHBs in complex proceedings, including a claim seeking public law compensation for an alleged breach of the right not to be deprived of life and concurrent secondary victim claim involving various agencies; and a claim seeking damages for mental injury purportedly not covered by ACC, following sexual abuse by a visitor in the hospital setting. Anita also advises DHBs and other organisations on complaints investigation processes, legal risk arising from complaints, and the role of various investigative agencies;.
- Advising health providers on informed consent (including where patients refusing life-saving treatment), treatment without consent, advance directives and treatment orders, the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, the management of patient complaints, and open disclosure. Anita has presented training sessions on these topics at DHB Grand Rounds and in other settings;
- Preparing and obtaining personal orders under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, including seeking orders for the provision of medical treatment and living arrangements.
- Advising and acting for DHBs in cases involving the withdrawal of treatment from a patient in a permanent vegetative state; parental refusal to treat a treatable condition in a baby with Down Syndrome; a proposed hysterectomy in a young intellectually disabled woman with a fear of blood; and surgery on Jehovah’s Witness child where parents refusing blood products.
- Acting at inquests; including cases with concurrent civil proceedings by secondary victims relating to the circumstances of death; suicides in mental health services (including where a patient had absconded); and emergency department deaths (including a pre-term baby thought to be stillborn).
- Lecturing on various aspects of health law for University of Otago Health Systems Law intensive, including the beginning of life, natural justice and judicial review, and the regulation of health practitioners.
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