Catherine Deans

Senior Associate
LLB (first class honours), BA (Psychology), LLM

Catherine is an experienced and passionate health lawyer. Having started her career in the litigation team at a major national firm, Catherine joined Claro in February 2015. She provides dispute resolution and general advisory services on a wide range of legal issues relevant to the health sector including professional discipline; regulation of health practitioners; organisation governance and decision-making; treatment issues (consent, withdrawal of treatment, sterilisation, and obtaining urgent treatment orders); health information privacy; and ACC claims.

At the University of Toronto, Catherine nurtured her interest in health law as a postgraduate student. Her LLM thesis focused on the extent to which different stakeholders in the healthcare system are involved in medical decision-making at the end-of-life. Catherine also worked in New Delhi, India, for a human rights law firm, where she explored legal avenues to ensure greater access to medicines in developing countries. In 2016, Catherine was awarded a prestigious Pegasus Scholarship to spend six weeks working with barristers from leading chambers in London.

Catherine provides practical, client-focused advice. She enjoys working collaboratively with clients to resolve challenging legal issues. Catherine has appeared as counsel in the District Court, High Court and Court of Appeal, and before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal. She also presents education seminars on topical and novel issues at the crossroads of law and medicine.

Catherine’s experience includes

  • Advising Te Whatu Ora on treatment issues including the proposed sterilisation of intellectually disabled minors, the legality of providing rare and controversial forms of treatment, and the use of “off-label” medicine.
  • Advising healthcare providers on the management of information requests under the Privacy Act and the Official Information Act, including on open disclosure requirements and in relation to complaints to the Privacy Commissioner, Ombudsman and the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
  • Advising regulators of health practitioners on aspects of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 including the relevance of the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997, how to implement government policy initiatives within the regulatory framework, and disciplinary and competence review processes.
  • Advising and acting for healthcare providers and individual health practitioners on employment and professional disciplinary matters, including in relation to charges laid before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and on appeals to the High Court and Court of Appeal.
  • Acting for individual health practitioners in Coroners’ inquests, including complex cases involving self-inflicted prisoner deaths, and deaths in mental health services.
  • Advising on human rights issues, including on aspects of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, defending habeas corpus claims, and on the existence and impact of common law rights.