Catherine Deans

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

Catherine joined Claro in February 2015.  Having developed a strong interest in the crossroads between law and medicine during her undergraduate studies, she obtained top marks in a number of health law papers.  In addition to completing a LLB (Hons), Catherine also gained a BA in Psychology from Otago University.  Her dual-discipline studies helped to nurture a particular passion for the legal issues that arise within the mental health system.

At the University of Toronto, Catherine continued to pursue 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 end-of-life.

Catherine began her legal career in the litigation team at Chapman Tripp, where she worked on a number of high-profile commercial disputes.  She has also spent time working in New Delhi, India, for a human rights law firm, where her role involved exploring legal avenues to ensure greater access to medicines in developing countries.

Catherine advises on a wide range of legal issues relevant to the health sector, including patient rights, health information privacy issues, ACC and treatment injuries, treatment issues (consent, withdrawal of treatment, sterilisation, and obtaining urgent treatment orders), and complaints against health sector agencies.  Catherine has acted as junior counsel in the High Court and before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal; and as sole counsel in the District Court.  She has also presented seminars on health law issues and contributed to international legal blogs on health ethics and human rights.

Catherine was awarded a 2016 Pegasus Scholarship to spend six weeks working with barristers from leading chambers in London.

Catherine’s experience includes

  • Advising DHBs on treatment issues including the proposed sterilisation of intellectually disabled minors, the legality of providing rare and controversial forms of treatment, the use of “off-label” medicine, and administering blood products to a Jehovah’s Witness child.
  • 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.
  • Counsel for DHBs and private healthcare providers on proceedings under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988.
  • 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.
  • Acting for individual health practitioners in Coroners’ inquests, including complex cases involving self-inflicted prisoner deaths, and deaths in mental health services.
  • Advising and representing DHBs and other crown entities 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.
  • Advising a tele-health start-up on legal and regulatory issues relevant to healthcare providers setting up and operating a business within New Zealand, including the Health and Disability Consumers’ Code of Rights, the Health Information Privacy Code, and the Fair Trading Act 1986.
  • Counsel for ACC in statutory appeals in relation to treatment injury claims under the Accident Compensation Act 2001