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Gerald B. Robertson Q.C., LL.B., LL.M.
 Gerald B. Robertson
Lecturer, School of Nursing | Professor of Law, University of Alberta
Contact Info
(780) 492-3348
467 Law Centre, University of Alberta


Professor Gerald Robertson, Q.C., received his LL.B. from the University of Edinburgh and his LL.M from McGill University. After teaching in England for five years, he joined the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta in 1983 and was appointed a full professor in 1988. He has taught there continuously since then. He was admitted to the Law Society of Alberta in 1989, and appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 2000. Professor Robertson teaches in the areas of tort law, conflict of laws, and health law, and his principal research interests lie in the field of health law, in particular, medical malpractice law and mental health law. In 2011 he was appointed as the inaugural Katz Group Chair in Health Law. Professor Robertson’s publications include the leading medical malpractice textbook in Canada, Legal Liability of Doctors and Hospitals in Canada (4th edition, co-authored with Justice Ellen Picard), and the textbook Mental Disability and the Law in Canada (2nd edition), as well as numerous book chapters, law commission reports, and articles in legal and medical journals in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Professor Robertson is a past recipient of the University of Alberta’s J. Gordin Kaplan Award for Excellence in Research, and the McCalla Research Professorship, as well as the Law Society of Alberta/Canadian Bar Association Distinguished Service Award for Legal Scholarship, the Honourable Tevie H. Miller Teaching Excellence Award, and the American Society of Law & Medicine Rattigan Award. Professor Robertson served for 20 years as a vice-chair of the Mental Health Review Panel under the Mental Health Act, and is currently alternate chair of the Alberta Review Board under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Official courses: HQRS-844: Law, Risk, and Healthcare

Teaching/Clinical Practice

Professor Robertson maintained a private practice in the area of civil litigation from 1989 until 2014, focusing primarily on medical malpractice, defamation, and personal injury.


  • Textbooks and Monographs
    • Mental Disability and the Law in Canada (Toronto, Ontario: Carswell Legal Publications; 1987).
    • Enduring Powers of Attorney (Report for Discussion No. 7. Edmonton, Alberta: Alberta Law Reform Institute; 1990).
    • Enduring Powers of Attorney (Report No. 59. Edmonton, Alberta: Alberta Law Reform Institute; 1990).
    • Elder Abuse and Neglect in Canada (co-author with P.L. McDonald et al.) (Toronto, Ontario: Butterworths; 1991).
    • Advance Directives and Substitute Decision-Making in Personal Health Care (Report for Discussion No. 11. Edmonton, Alberta: Alberta Law Reform Institute; 1991).
    • Advance Directives and Substitute Decision-Making in Personal Healthcare (Report No. 64. Edmonton, Alberta: Alberta Law Reform Institute & the Health Law Institute; 1993).
    • Mental Disability and the Law in Canada (2nd edition. Toronto, Ontario: Carswell Thomson Canada Ltd.; 1994).
    • Legal Liability of Doctors and Hospitals in Canada (co-author with E.I. Picard) (3rd edition. Toronto, Ontario: Carswell Thomson Canada Ltd.; 1996).
    • Legal Liability of Doctors and Hospitals in Canada (co-author with E.I. Picard) (4th edition. Toronto, Ontario: Carswell Thomson Canada Ltd.; 2007).
  • Chapters in Textbooks and Monographs
    • Mental Incompetency, Chapter of C.E.D. (West. 3rd ed.), vol. 22 (Toronto, Ontario: Carswell Legal Publications; 1985. Revised 1990. Revised 1995).
    • “Doctrinal Developments in Canadian Health Care Liability” in Liability and Compensation in Health Care (Prichard Commission, Final Report),Appendix B,vol.1 (Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press; 1990) 1-65.
    • “Medical Assessment and Professional Liability”, in E.L. Gross (ed.), Injury Evaluation: Medicolegal Principles" (Toronto, Ontario: Butterworths; 1991) 23-37.
    • “Legal Rights of Children to Health Care in the Common Law Jurisdictions of Canada” (co-author with M.L. McCall), in B.M. Knoppers (ed.), Canadian Child Health Law (Toronto, Ontario: Thompson Educational Publishing, Inc.; 1992) 151-208.
    • “Elder Abuse in Canada and the United States: Prevalence, Legal and Service Issues” (co-author with J.P. Hornick et al.), in R.D. Peters et al. (eds.), Aggression and Violence Throughout the Life Span (Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications, Inc.; 1992) 301-335.
    • “Reform of the Law of Medical Liability: The Position in the Common Law Jurisdictions of Canada”, in H.P. Glenn (ed.), Contemporary Law: Canadian Reports to the 1990 International Congress of Comparative Law (Montréal, Québec: Les Éditions Yvon Blais, Inc.; 1992) 173-196.
    • “Sterilization, Mental Disability, and Re Eve: Affirmative Discrimination?”, in W.S. Tarnopolsky et al. (eds.), Discrimination in the Law and the Administration of Justice (Montréal, Québec: Les Éditions Thémis, Inc.; 1993) 447-456.
    • “Reproductive Technology: Is a Property Law Regime Appropriate?”, (co-author with M.M. Litman), in Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, Overview of Legal Issues in New Reproductive Technologies (Ottawa, Ontario: Minister of Supplies and Services Canada; 1993) 233-301.
    • “The Right to Refuse Psychiatric Treatment in Canada”, in S.N. Verdun-Jones & M. Layton, Mental Health Law and Practice Through the Life Cycle (Burnaby, British Columbia: Simon Fraser University; 1994) 114-117.
    • “Canadian Legal Aspects of Obstetrics and Gynaecology” (co-author with J.A. Miller), in R.V. Clements (ed.), Safe Practice in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (London, England: Churchill Livingstone; 1994) 125-131.
    • “Legal Approaches to Elder Abuse and Neglect in Canada”, in M.J. MacLean, Abuse and Neglect of Older Canadians: Strategies for Change (Toronto, Ontario: Thompson Educational Publishing, Inc.; 1995) 55-62.
    • “The Common Law Status of Genetic Material”, (co-author with M.M. Litman), in B.M. Knoppers et al. (eds.), Legal Rights and Human Genetic Material (Toronto, Ontario: Emond Montgomery Publications; 1996) 51-84.
    • “Negligence and Malpractice”, in T. Caulfield & J. Downie (eds.), Canadian Health Law and Policy (Toronto, Ontario: Butterworths; 1999) 83-100.
    • “Substitute Decision Making” (co-author with N. Lazar et al.), in P.A. Singer (ed.), Bioethics at the Bedside (Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Medical Association; 1999) 33-37.
    • “Advance Care Planning” (co-author with P.A. Singer et al.), in P.A. Singer (ed.), Bioethics at the Bedside (Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Medical Association; 1999) 39-46.
    • “Negligence and Malpractice”, in T. Caulfield, J. Downie & C. Flood (eds.), Canadian Health Law and Policy, 2nd edition (Toronto, Ontario: Butterworths; 2002) 91-109.
    • “Enduring Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives”, in A. Soden (ed.), Advising the Older Client (Toronto, Ontario: Butterworths; 2005) 109-132.
    • “Disclosure of Medical Error” (co-author with P.C. Hébert and A.V. Levin), in P.A. Singer & A.M. Viens (eds.), The Cambridge Textbook of Bioethics (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press; 2008) 257-265.
    • “The Legal Duty of Physicians to Disclose Medical Errors” in Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing (St.John’s, Newfoundland: Gov. of Newfoundland and Labrador; 2009), vol2, 65-80.
    • “Children’s Rights and Health Law: The ‘Mature Minor’ Rule Revisited”, in S. Anand (ed.), Children and the Law: Essays in Honour of Professor Nicholas Bala (Toronto, Ontario: Irwin Law; 2011) 39-55.
    • “Mental Health”, in Y. Joly and B.M. Knoppers (eds.), Routlledge Handbook of Medical Law and Ethics 98-111 (Routledge, 2014).
  • Articles
    • “Civil Liability Arising from Wrongful Birth Following an Unsuccessful Sterilization Operation” (1978) 4 American Journal of Law & Medicine 131-156.
    • “A New Application of the Rescue Principle” (1980) 96 Law Quarterly Review 19-22.
    • “Informed Consent to Medical Treatment” (1981) 97 Law Quarterly Review 102-126.
    • “Damages for Failed Abortion” (1981) 44 Modern Law Review 215-219.
    • “Whitehouse v. Jordan: Medical Negligence Retried” (1981) 44 Modern Law Review 457-461.
    • “Jurisdiction Clauses and the Canadian Conflict of Laws” (1982) 20 Alberta Law Review 296-313.
    • “Wrongful Life” (1982) 45 Modern Law Review 697-701.
    • "Damages for the Birth of a Child - Some Possible Policy Barriers” (1983) 23 Medicine, Science & Law 2-4.
    • “Discovery of Hospital Accident Reports” (1983) 133 New Law Journal 1020-1021.
    • “Defective Premises and Subsequent Purchasers” (1983) 99 Law Quarterly Review 559-571.
    • “Informed Consent in Canada: An Empirical Study” (1984) 22 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 139-161; reprinted (1985) 18 Annals of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada 49-53 and 125-130.
    • “Overcoming the Causation Hurdle in Informed Consent Cases: The Principle in McGhee v. N.C.B.” (1984) 22 University of Western Ontario Law Review 75-93.
    • “Solicitor's Liability for Failure to Substantiate Testamentary Capacity” (co-author with M.M. Litman) (1984) 62 Canadian Bar Review 457-497.
    • “Fraudulent Concealment and the Duty to Disclose Medical Mistakes” (1987) 25 Alberta Law Review 215-223.
    • “Psychiatric Treatment and the Charter” (1991) 2 Constitutional Forum 106-107.
    • “Informed Consent Ten Years Later: The Impact of Reibl v. Hughes” (1991) 70 Canadian Bar Review 423-447.
    • “Advance Directives - A Legal View” (1991) 1 Health Law Review 3-6.
    • “Mental Disability and Canadian Law” (1993) 2 Health Law Review 23-27.
    • “Scott v. Birdsell: Limitation Periods in Medical Malpractice Cases” (1994) 32 Alberta Law Review 181-184.
    • “The Efficacy of the Medical Malpractice System: A Canadian Perspective” (1994) 3 Loyola University Annals of Health Law 167-178.
    • “Ontario's New Informed Consent Law: Codification or Radical Change?” (1994) 2 Health Law Journal 88-98.
    • “Legal Norms Relevant to the Practice of Human Genetics: A Background Paper” (co-author with J. Miller et al.) (1995) 3 Health Law Journal 187-211.
    • “Bioethics for Clinicians V: Substitute Decision Making” (co-author with N. Lazar et al.) (1996) 155 Canadian Medical Association Journal 1435-1437.
    • “Bioethics for Clinicians VI: Advance Care Planning” (co-author with P.A. Singer et al.) (1996) 155 Canadian Medical Association Journal 1689-1692.
    • “Eugenic Policies in Alberta: From the Systematic to the Systemic?” (co-author with T. Caulfield) (1996) 35 Alberta Law Review 59-79.
    • “The Health Information Protection Act” (1997) 6 Health Law Review 8-10.
    • “Notifying Patients Exposed to Blood Products Associated with Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease: Integrating Science, Legal Duties and Ethical Mandates” (co-author with T. Caulfield et al.) (1997) 157 Canadian Medical Association Journal 1389-1392.
    • “Cost Containment Mechanisms in Health Care: A Review of Private Law Issues” (co-author with T. Caulfield) (2000) 27 Manitoba Law Journal 1-16.
    • “Bioethics for Clinicians: Disclosure of Medical Error” (co-author with P.C. Hébert and A.V. Levin) (2001) 164 Canadian Medical Association Journal 509-513.
    • “Xenotransplantation: Consent, Public Health and Charter Issues” (co-author with T.A. Caulfield) (2001) 5 Medical Law International 81-99.
    • “Liability for Wrongful Birth and Wrongful Life” (co-author with E. Nelson) (2001) 2 ISUMA: Canadian Journal of Policy Research 102-105.
    • “Castillo v. Castillo: Limitation Periods and the Conflict of Laws” (2002) 40 Alberta Law Review 447-449.
    • “When Things Go Wrong: The Duty to Disclose Medical Error” (2002) 28 Queen’s Law Journal 353-362.
    • “Informed Consent 20 Years Later” [2003] Health Law Journal 153-159.
    • “A View of the Future: Emerging Developments in Health Care Liability” [2008] Health Law Journal 1-12.
    • “The Law of Domicile: Re Foote Estate” (2010) 48 Alberta Law Review 189-194.
    • “Civil Commitment and the ‘Unsuitable’ Voluntary Patient” (2010) 19 Health Law Review 5-9.
    • “Public Policy and Recognition of Foreign Divorces: Zhang v. Lin and Marzara v. Marzara” (2012) 49 Alberta Law Review 745-750.
    • “Commentary: The Law, Unproven CAM and the Referral Challenge” (co-author with T.Caulfield and U. Ogbogu) (2013) 18 Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies 1-7.