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Les principes et les mutations de l’expertise dans la culture juridique française : un regard comparé avec le projet de réforme de l’expertise au Québec

Le 27 février 2014, Groupe de recherche en santé et droit accueillait le professeur Etienne Vergès de l'Université de Grenoble. Le professeur Vergès a gracieusement accepté de partager ici sa présentation [.pdf] en ligne.


Le modèle français de l’expertise est imprégné de la culture juridique française. Cette culture est marquée par l’idée que, dans tout litige, il existe une vérité, et que l’objet du procès est de faire émerger cette vérité.

Les règles relatives à l’expertise sont inspirées de cette philosophie. Dans le modèle procédural classique, un expert judiciaire est désigné par le juge et il est chargé de dévoiler la vérité scientifique qui permettra de résoudre le litige. La controverse scientifique est relativement absente de ce modèle.

Pourtant, au cours des dernières décennies, cette culture a subi des mutations sous l’impulsion de nombreux phénomènes : apparition d’incertitudes scientifiques incontournables, développement de l’expertise privée dite « amiable », et création d’une procédure de recherche des preuves entre les parties et avant tout procès (procédure participative).

La conférence proposait donc de présenter les grands principes qui dominent le droit de l’expertise en France et les mutations contemporaines de ce mode de preuve. Elle a mis ces règles en perspective avec le projet de réforme de l’expertise au Québec.

January 22, 2014: Banning food ads aimed at children: Is Quebec’s regulatory model still cutting-edge?

For its 2014 Interdisciplinary Panel, the McGill Research Group on Health and Law invited Bill Jeffery, National Coordinator, Centre for Science in the Public Interest; Dr. Kristin Voigt, Institute for Health and Social Policy and Dept of Philosophy, McGill University; and Dr. Monique Potvin Kent, Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa (see the calendar entry for biographies).


For more than 30 years, Quebec has had some of the strictest consumer protection legislation in the world, banning commercial advertising directed at children under the age of 13. The Supreme Court of Canada famously upheld the ban as a justifiable restriction on freedom of speech in the 1989 decision in Irwin Toy v. Quebec (Attorney General), chiefly because of children’s unique vulnerability to advertising.

A current private member’s bill would seek to expand Quebec’s approach to Ontario. Further jurisdictions also look to Quebec as a model. Yet, restrictions on food advertising to children continue to attract controversy, with disputes over their effectiveness in curbing diet-related illness among children; their scope; their flexibility in the age of new forms of media and marketing; and their value in relation to industry-led approaches.

This interdisciplinary panel will explore legal, ethical, social science and policy dimensions of restrictions on food advertising to children, with a focus on the role of evidence in crafting public health policy and regulating industry practice.

RGHL/IHSP Annual Lecture with Thomas Pogge: Paying for Health Impact

Thomas PoggeOn October 11, 2013, the McGill Research Group on Health and Law (RGHL), in collaboration with the Institute for Social and Health Policy (IHSP), hosted its 6th Annual Lecture. It had the pleasure of welcoming renowned philosopher Thomas Pogge, Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University. Professor Pogge’s lecture, “Paying for Health Impact”, discussed an innovative idea, the Health Impact Fund (HIF), a mechanism intended to improve access to new medicines worldwide.

Professor Pogge explained how the HIF would give pharmaceutical innovators the option to be rewarded according to the incremental health impact of their product rather than through a patent-protected mark-up. This way, the HIF aims to stimulate the development of high-impact medicines (especially for currently neglected diseases), ensure their availability at low cost, and encourage innovators to market such medicines with the aim of reducing the global disease burden.


One-third of all human lives end in early death from poverty-related causes. Many of these premature deaths are avoidable through global health system reforms, including to the existing patent regime. The latter provides incentives for the development and distribution of new medicines; but it also leaves gaps, especially in poor regions. The Health Impact Fund (HIF) is a mechanism intended to fill these gaps and to improve access to new medicines worldwide.

The HIF would give pharmaceutical innovators the option to be rewarded according to the incremental health impact of their product rather than through a patent-protected mark-up. The HIF would stimulate the development of high-impact medicines (especially for currently neglected diseases), would ensure availability at low cost, and would encourage innovators to market such medicines with the aim of reducing the global disease burden.

The feasibility of this reform shows that the existing medical-patent regime is severely unjust. Professor Pogge will (a) introduce the HIF proposal and its moral justification, (b) discuss its implementation, funding, and economic viability, (c) explain its advantages for pharmaceutical firms as well as the benefits for the health and welfare of affluent and poor populations and (d) report on efforts to pilot the HIF idea in particular jurisdictions.

14 mars 2013: Le principe de précaution devant le juge civil

Mathilde BoutonnetMathilde Boutonnet, Maître de conférences en droit privé, Titulaire de la Chaire CNRS droit de l’environnement, Université Aix-Marseille.

Mathilde Boutonnet, Maître de conférences en droit privé and Titulaire de la Chaire CNRS droit de l’environnement at Université Aix-Marseille, gave a workshop on the treatment of the precautionary principle by the civilian judge applying private law principles.

In addition to addressing the use of the precautionary principle in the context of environmental liability, Prof. Boutonnet discussed the application by civilian judges of this principle to private litigation involving issues of health and safety.

She demonstrated that the precautionary principle has a role in both prevention and reparation in private law matters affected by scientific uncertainty as risks to environment and health.

13 February 2013: Listening for Lawyers

Dr Abraham FuksAbraham Fuks, Professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University and member of the Research Group in Health and Law, gave a workshop on February 13, 2013 on Listening for Lawyers.

Dr. Fuks analyzed the critical role that active listening plays in overcoming obstacles and building trust within the client-advocate relationship.

He explored the societal, professional and personal barriers to skillful listening, while examining the vital role that listening plays in effective client-centred advocacy by drawing parallels between the physician-patient relationship in healing and the lawyer’s relationship with their client.

30 January 2013: Equality and Health: Reaching for Resolution in the Realms of Disability Rights?

This year's Annual Lecture in Health and Law was presented by Anna Lawson, Deputy Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Disability Studies, University of Leeds.

Ms Lawson's lecture reflected on the relationship between the concepts of equality and health in the disability context. It considered ways in which the demands of “health” have often been used to override those of “equality”. As well as having profound implications for the lives of disabled people, this has had significant political and theoretical repercussions. The harmful impact of neglecting the demands of equality on the health of disabled people was also considered.

The lecture concluded by a reflection on the extent to which tensions between “equality” and “health” have been resolved, and on what factors, if any, are contributing to achieving greater reconciliation. This discussion was set against the backdrop of international developments and, in particular, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This event was organized in collaboration with McGill's Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.

Sex Work, Rights, and the Criminal Law: Reflections on Bedford v. Canada

On October 31, the RGHL welcomed over 100 students, lawyers, professors and stakeholders to Sex Work, Rights, and the Criminal Law: Reflections on Bedford v. Canada, the RGHL's interdisciplinary panel for the 2012-2013 academic year. Read about the panel in Focus online's November 2012 edition.

The panel, moderated by Professor Alana Klein (leftmost), brought together three panelists from different professional settings to address various issues associated with the Ontario Court of Appeal's decision in Bedford v. Canada. 

Alana Klein, Daniel Weinstock, Tara Santini, Alan Young

Our panelists were Professor Daniel Weinstock, Faculty of Law, McGill University; Ms Tara Santini, Member of Stella and Consultant for Stella for Intervening Sex Worker Coalition in Bedford v. Canada; and Professor Alan N. Young, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, and counsel in Bedford v. Canada.

July 3-6, 2012: Meeting of the Réseau Innovations technologiques, incertitude des risques et droit de la responsabilité

The newly created international Réseau Innovations technologiques, incertitude des risques et droit de la responsabilité (Technological Innovations, Uncertainty and the Law of Liability Network) held its first meeting at the Faculty of Law of McGill University in early July, organized by Etienne Vergès (Université Grenoble 2) and Lara Khoury (McGill University).

The Network’s objective is to collaboratively examine a fundamental issue at the intersection of law and technology: the necessary transformation of the law of civil liability in response to the uncertainty of the risks associated with modern technological developments. As part of this meeting, the network members delivered presentations on their area of expertise related to the network theme.


Sébastien Pimont, Université de Savoie, France
Innovations technologiques, incertitudes et écriture doctrinale du droit de la responsabilité

Vincent Forray, Université McGill, Canada
L'incertitude du risque et les dialectiques de la responsabilité

Etienne Vergès, Université Pierre-Mendès-France (Grenoble 2), France
Les risques et incertitudes liés aux innovations scientifiques et le droit français de la responsabilité civile : entre rupture et continuité

Christophe Quezel-Ambrunaz, Université Pierre-Mendès-France (Grenoble 2), France
La doctrine face aux innovations juridiques consécutives aux innovations scientifiques

Ken Oliphant, Directeur, Institute for European Tort Law, Autriche
Tort Law, Risk, and Technological Change in England

Geneviève Schamps, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique
Le Fonds des accidents médicaux et le risque lié aux évolutions de la biomédecine : perspectives d’indemnisation en droit belge

Marie-Ève Arbour, Université Laval, Canada
Le risque de développement sous l’éclairage du droit comparé/The Risk Development Defense through the Lenses of Comparative Law
Umberto Izzo, Université de Trento, Italie
Tort Law, Uncertainty, and the Concept of Precautionary Information. Accommodating the Operational Meanings  of the "Traditional Concepts" of Negligence and Strict Liability in the Reality of the Digital Information Era

Trudo Lemmens, Université de Toronto, Canada
L’accès à l’information et le droit à la santé : la transparence des essais cliniques comme une obligation dans le contexte des droits de l’homme

Ma’n H. Zawati, Université McGill, Canada
Biobanques populationnelles : incertitude, réciprocité et l’obligation de renseignement du médecin-chercheur

Philippe Brun, Université de Savoie, France
Exigence de causalité et incertitude scientifique: analyse critique des solutions du droit français

Lara Khoury, Université McGill, Canada
Le juge et l’incertitude causale en droit canadien, anglais et australien

Richard S. Goldberg, University of Aberdeen, Écosse
Scientific uncertainty, causation and drug product liability

Laurène Mazeau,  Université Pierre-Mendès-France (Grenoble 2), France
L’imputation de la responsabilité civile en contexte d’incertitude scientifique et technologique

Quatrième conférence annuelle en santé et droit -18 janvier 2012
Évolution du droit de la procréation assistée: La bioéthique à la française

G à D: Jean-Louis Beaudoin, Frédérique Dreifuss-Netter et Nicolas Kasirer avant la conférence.

La Conférence annuelle en santé et droit s'est avérée un plein succès cette année.

La présence de Madame Frédérique Dreifuss-Netter, conseiller à la première chambre civile de la Cour de cassation en France, a attiré une centaine de personnes, un public mixte composé d’étudiants, de professeurs, d’avocats et de membres de la Cour d’appel du Québec et de la Cour supérieure.

Madame Dreifuss-Netter, en charge aujourd’hui des affaires de responsabilité médicale de la Cour, est une bioéthicienne et spécialiste du droit médical renommée en France grâce à une longue carrière universitaire précédant sa nomination à la Cour.

Après le mot d’ouverture prononcé par L’Honorable Nicholas Kasirer, Madame Dreifuss-Netter a donné une conférence impressionnante et stimulante intitulée “Évolution du droit de la procréation assistée: La bioéthique à la française”. Le mot de clôture a été prononcé par L’Honorable Jean-Louis Baudouin.

State Incentives to Promote Organ Donation: Can a System of Rewarded Gifting Ease the Organ Shortage? - November 9, 2011

Mélanie Mader, Postdoctoral Fellow, Research Group on Health and Law

Mélanie Mader

Organ transplantation is a very successful medical procedure, which saves the lives of thousands of patients worldwide every year. However, this success is limited by a major problem: a chronic shortage of transplantable organs.

In this seminar, we consider the medical, social and economic issues raised by transplantation medicine and define organ shortage as a public health problem. Based on this premise, we present the idea of establishing a public policy to promote organ donation within the Swiss legal system.

As part of a public policy, the State can use incentives, i.e., regulatory instruments to reward organ donation. Considering legal and ethical constraints, we show how these incentives can be designed to increase organ donation rates without violating the prohibition of organ sales.

This argument leads us to envision several innovative incentives such as tax breaks for willing donors; priority status on the waiting list for a registered donor should he or she ever need an organ transplant; discounts on health insurance premiums; or a rebate on a donor's funeral costs. Finally, we discuss examples of States where some of these incentives have been adopted.

See also Focus online: The Laws of the Heart - Mélanie Mader on organ transplantation.

The Risks and Promises of Pharmacogenetics and Personalized Medicine: An Interdisciplinary Panel Discussion - October 5, 2011

This well-attended and enlightening panel discussion brought together four panelists hailing from different academic areas and professional settings to address various issues associated with pharmacogenetics and personalized medicine. Professor Richard Gold was the moderator.


Jennifer Fishman, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Ethics Unit and Department of Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University

Yann Joly, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

Agnes V. Klein, Director, Health Products & Food Branch, Health Canada

Michael Phillips, Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair in Translational Pharmacogenomics, Pharmacogenomics Centre, Université de Montréal

Time and place: 12h30-14h30, Room 312, New Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Street

Download: Pharmacogenetics Panel Poster

Lunch will be served. Space is limited. Kindly RSVP to rghl [dot] law [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Richard Goldberg on "The Rise and Fall of the Measles Mumps Rubella Litigation: An Anglo-American Comparison" - April 1, 2011

 Dr. Richard Goldberg, King's College, University of Aberdeen, School of Law

Dr. Richard Goldberg, King's College, University of Aberdeen, School of Law, gave an insightful, thought-provoking talk on the various legal implications surrounding the controversy of the MMR vaccine on autism, both in the United Kingdom and the USA. The lunchtime conference was well-attended and the Q&A session ranged across many ideas.

Dr. Goldberg is visiting the Faculty for part of the month of April. He is a specialist of product liability, medical and pharmaceutical law, IP, and tort and is widely published in these areas.

Full bio: www.abdn.ac.uk/law/staffmember.php?ID=56

Jocelyn Downie gives 3rd Annual Lecture on Health & Law - January 13, 2011

Jocelyn Downie

Jocelyn Downie, Canada Research Chair in Health Law & Policy and Professor in the Faculties of Law and Medicine at Dalhousie University, delivered a lecture on euthanasia, assisted suicide and the law on January 13, 2011.

In this talk, Jocelyn Downie reviewed the state of end of life law and policy in Canada and offered up a position on what Quebec (and other jurisdictions at various levels of government) could and should do in response to calls for the decriminalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Read the article posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011, in the McGill Reporter: Just Dying: A Discussion of Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide and the Law, by Pascal Zamprelli.

Calendar entry and abstract: "Just Dying: A Discussion of Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide and the Law."

Welcome to Postdoctoral Researcher Mélanie Mader

Mélanie Mader

The McGill Research Group on Health and Law (RGHL) is pleased to announce that Dr. Mélanie Mader has joined the Faculty of Law as a Postdoctoral Researcher for one year, starting this January.

Dr. Mader brings to the RGHL an extensive background in public health, health law and ethics, and medical liability. Dr. Mader recently obtained her Ph.D. from University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Her dissertation, which focused on regimes governing compensation for organ donation, has very recently been published as a book (Collection neuchâteloise, Helbing Lichtenhahn, 2010).

Dr. Mader also holds an LL.M. from Cambridge University and a law degree from the University of Neuchâtel. Before joining McGill, she was a visiting researcher at the University of Montreal’s Centre de recherche en droit public.

Mélanie Mader has also served as a member of municipal parliament in the Swiss municipality of Köniz, and is fluent in French, English and German.

She was interviewed in the Faculty's online magazine, Focus online, in February 2011.

The Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project - 2 November 2010

Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project (KSDPP)

On November 2, 2010, Dr. Ann C. Macaulay, Professor of Family Medicine, McGill Department of Family Medicine, and Director of Participatory Research at McGill (PRAM), and Morgan Kahentonni Phillips, a community researcher in the Network for Aboriginal Mental Health Research, did a joint presentation on a health project that involved developing and maintaining research partnerships with Aboriginal communities and organizations in Kahnawake.

See the complete calendar entry.

Download the Presentation .

Lawrence Gostin gives 2nd Annual Lecture in Health and Law - 25 March 2010

The subject of his talk was "Meeting the Basic Survival Needs of the World’s Least Healthy People: Toward a Framework Convention on Global Health."

This lecture was sponsored in part by the McGill Beatty Memorial Lecture Series. 

On March 25, 2010, the Research Group on Health and Law was proud to host Professor Lawrence Gostin (Georgetown U.), who delivered the 2nd Annual Lecture in Health and Law on how developped countries need to ensure the basic survival needs of the world’s least healthy people.

On March 25, 2010, the Research Group on Health and Law hosted Professor Lawrence Gostin (Georgetown U.), who delivered the <a  data-cke-saved-href=2nd Annual Lecture in Health and Law on how developped countries need to ensure the basic survival needs of the world’s least healthy people. This lecture was sponsored in part by the McGill Beatty Memorial Lecture Series.