Patrick Garon-Sayegh: expert lawyer on expertise

If a surgeon amputates a patient’s left leg instead of his right leg, it is easier to prove medical malpractice in front of a judge. However, not all cases are so clear. But how does one prove that the doctor should have acted differently or should have acted differently?

By contacting experts in this field! This is where Patrick Garon-Sayegh’s years of experience come into play.

In fact, the work of a new associate professor at the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Law deals with fundamental questions about evidence and lies at the intersection of philosophy of science, philosophy of law, and rhetoric – or argumentation theory. .

“The law of evidence places limits on the freedom of the parties when they have to justify their claims before the judge: the parties are free, but within certain rules they are intended to both promote and partially sacrifice the search for truth. Seek the truth to protect other values ​​or interests, such as privacy or professional secrecy,” says Patrick Garon-Sayegh.

A longstanding fascination with the law

If law can lead to a variety of careers, it was music that led Patrick Garon-Sayegh indirectly to law.

“As a teenager, school didn’t really encourage me and I wasn’t a good student,” he admits. It was music that taught me to be structured. I was so passionate about music that I even considered making it my business.

In the early 2000s, the electric bassist studied communication and sound production while composing and recording music and performing regularly live. She received her BA in Communication from Concordia University in 2005 with honors. The following year, he began studying law at McGill University.

“I’ve long had an abstract fascination with the law, but the discipline scared me. However, my success in communication and gaining some maturity gave me the confidence to continue in the legal field.”

After completing his discipline studies, Patrick Garon-Sayegh worked at a pan-Canadian law firm from 2011 to 2015. He then advocates for complex environmental and construction-related causes and calls on a variety of experts, particularly those in engineering and urban planning.

Better understand professional liability

At the same time, serious health problems lead him to consult various health professionals. They take good care of him, but the experience nonetheless stimulates his thinking about the reasons these professionals trust him to perform one medical procedure over another.

“I had to change direction and so I started a master’s degree to study the law of bioethics and medical ethics…considering the possibility of further advancement in graduate school,” recalls the lawyer.

Exploration pays off: Immediately after receiving a master’s degree in law from McGill University, he began his doctoral studies in 2017, this time at the University of Toronto.

In his dissertation, Patrick Garon-Sayegh examines how medical expertise is used to prove the guilt of doctors in medical liability cases.

“My goal is to better define the origins of the rules of the art of medicine and better understand how we prove doctors wrong,” he describes. Because we judge experts, we must mobilize the opinions of other experts to prove guilt.

Because science is not a proof of any medical act. “We saw this during the pandemic: not all of the decisions that were made turned into scientific questions, and the same is true in clinical medicine,” he said.

The importance of the uniqueness of each case

Beginning in January, a new law professor will teach evidence in civil matters.

In this role, he will try to make his students understand that they will be held accountable for the quality of their reasoning, not only in their narrow role as a litigator, but also through a variety of concrete challenges. they will face like lawyers and notaries: they will have to avoid copying solutions, constantly questioning themselves in order to take on the burden that comes with the freedom of professional activity”.

“And I want to convey to them the importance of paying attention to the particular situation of their clients so that justice is done: law and medicine have in common that clients and patients want to be treated as people in their own country, not as interchangeable numbers. in his own right, concludes Patrick Garon-Sayegh. The law of evidence is knowing how to stop in the details. To do this, you need to know how to listen.”

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