Informed Consent – and not just for Vaccines

A couple of weeks ago the news cycle led with the headline that the Ontario government has closed the time gap between the first dose of Astra Zeneca to the second dose of a vaccine from 12 to 8 weeks.   The headline didn’t include the detail, that this was done with “informed consent”. 

So, what is informed consent?  Well, it means you are agreeing to do something after you have been informed of the possible negative consequences of doing it.  In the case of Astra Zeneca, the information was that the manufacturer and the science behind the vaccine find it more effective at preventing Covid if the doses are at least 12 weeks apart. 

As business lawyers, we are constantly ensuring that when our clients agree to something, be it a sale, a purchase, a litigation settlement or clauses in a contract, they are doing so knowing what the potential downside of doing so is. At times it may seem to our clients that we are only living in the shadow of what could go wrong, but good counsel are always keeping their eye on that so the client knows the risk they are taking.

If your business lawyer is telling you to take their advice without explaining the downside, you may want to think about a different business lawyer, because informed consent matters.

Inga B. Andriessen, Principal Lawyer