n South African Medical Journal - Compensation for research-related harm : the implications of for research ethics committees : research

Volume 104, Issue 11
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



The issue of what type of compensation a research participant would be entitled to in a clinical trial when they have signed an informed consent document excluding certain forms of compensation recently came before our courts in the matter of (Case No. 12285/08). In this case, the court had to consider whether the plaintiff, Mr Venter, was entitled to claim for non-medical costs such as pain and suffering, loss of income and general damages, even though the informed-consent document expressly excluded such claims.

To set out the facts, issues and judgment in the case, concluding with a discussion of the implications of the judgment for research ethics committees (RECs).
Critical review of a judgment of the Western Cape High Court.
The court concluded that Mr Venter's application for damages should be dismissed because he had voluntarily agreed to the limited compensation as set out in the informed consent form that had been approved by both the local RECs and the Medicines Control Council.
The case has shown that delictual claims for research-related injuries will not be successful if plaintiffs have agreed to limit their own rights through signing an informed-consent form that limits compensation. This places an important obligation on RECs to ensure that they carefully review compensation clauses in informed-consent documents and that these are made clear to potential research participants.

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