Breen vs Williams is a landmark court case in Australian legal history. The case arose when Sydney Plastic Surgeon Dr Cholm Williams decided to give the Australian legal system the opportunity to determine the ownership and control of confidential patient medical information. His subsequent victory in the High Court gave the first comprehensive legal explanation of the competing rights of patients, doctors, plaintiff lawyers and other third parties, who wanted access to confidential medical files. As a result of the case, the Federal Government introduced legislation to regulate what was previously unknown territory and restore confidence in medical record keeping.
Dr Williams came to prominence in the 1984 Doctors’ Dispute when he led the Plastic Surgeons who refused to allow government intervention into the doctor/patient relationship. Since that time, he has contributed significantly to the work of the Australian Doctors’ Fund (now Doctors’ Federation). His reputation for clinical excellence in Plastic Surgery has also earnt the respect of all those who understand the complexities of this demanding specialty.
Dr Williams continues to serve on the management committee of the Australian Doctors’ Federation, and there is no more deserving awardee of the