High Court rejects motor neurone sufferer’s application to overturn prohibition on assisted suicide

Conway, R (On the application of) v The Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWHC 2447 (Admin) – read judgment

This case concerns the issue of provision of assistance to a person with a serious wasting disease who wishes to commit suicide, so as to be able to exercise control over the time of his death as the disease reaches its final stages. See our previous post on it here and here. It follows a line of cases which have addressed that or similar issues, in particular R (Pretty) v Director of Public Prosecutions [2001] UKHL 61; [2002] 1 AC 800 (“Pretty“), R (Purdy) v Director of Public Prosecutions [2009] UKHL 54; [2010] 1 AC 345 (“Purdy“) and R (Nicklinson) v Ministry of Justice [2014] UKSC 38; [2015] AC 657(“Nicklinson“). Permission to bring this judicial review was granted by the Court of Appeal (McFarlane and Beatson LJJ, see [2017] EWCA Civ 275), having earlier been refused by the Divisional Court (Burnett LJ, Charles and Jay JJ) at [2017] EWHC 640 (Admin

Section 1 of the Suicide Act 1961 abrogated the rule of law whereby it was a crime for a person to commit suicide. In this hearing Mr Conway sought a claim for a declaration of incompatibility pursuant to section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998  in respect of the prohibition in the criminal law against provision of assistance for a person to commit suicide. That prohibition is contained in section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961. Continue reading

Are surrogacy costs a legitimate claim?

XX v Whittington Hospital NHS Trust 2017 EWHC 2318 (QB) (18 September 2017)  [HQ15C04535]

Podcast about this case now downloadable

Commercial surrogacy arrangements are considered to be against public policy in the UK and therefore illegal. Surrogacy in the UK is only legal where there is no intention to make a profit – though reasonable expenses are recoverable. Where legal surrogacy is
carried out the surrogate mother is the legal mother of the child. In this case the claimant had suffered injury due to the hospital’s failure to diagnose her cervical cancer in time. She had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment which, amongst other things, damaged her uterus so she was unable to bear and carry a child. Before the treatment she had her eggs frozen.

The hospital admitted negligence. As part of her damages claim she sought the expenses she would incur for a commercial surrogacy arrangement in California. She wished to go to the US since the position of a woman seeking surrogacy in the UK is made more difficult by the fact that commercial arrangements are illegal. This means that in the UK the surrogate chooses the biological mother, rather than the other way around. The lack of certainty over parental status was also cited as a reason why an arrangement in the US would be preferable. Continue reading

PKU boy to be treated with Kuvan after High Court ruling

You may remember the podcast discussion between me, Rosalind English, and David Hart QC earlier in the summer about the NHS decision not to fund the drug Kuvan for the amelioration of symptoms of a boy suffering from  phenylketonuria (PKU) and severe autism. The podcast concerned a High Court ruling that the health service should review its decision not to fund the drug Kuvan.

As I mentioned in the original report, the judge did warn the boy’s family against being too optimistic, saying

however much one might hope that on the next occasion the panel will decide that the net additional expenditure of treating S with Kuvan would be justified … they could still lawfully decide to refuse funding.

However, the judge’s caution has not been borne out by events. On Friday 29th September it was reported that NHS England has agreed to provide the drug to treat his PKU, which if left unchecked can lead to complications including brain damage.

Listen to Episode 9 of Law Pod UK, available for download on iTunes

A weed is a plant in the wrong place

... and pests are misplaced animals. We are all too familiar with the stories of mayhem caused by urban foxes released into the countryside, and the collapse in property value where Japanese knotweed is found to have invaded. The perpetrators of such damage are rarely identified and brought to account. So it is with a level of glee that the prosecution of two “Buddhist activists” has been reported in the media after they released nearly a thousand alien crustaceans off the coast of Brighton.

“Banker” Ni Li and “estate agent” Zhixong Li bought the live American lobsters and Dungeness crabs from a London fish merchant, hired three boats from Brighton Marina and cast the animals adrift as part of a religious ceremony, fangsheng, which is understood to be the cause of many ecosystem disruptions in Asia.

This short story is so replete with topical issues it is hard to know where to begin.

Continue reading

September Round Up: Strasbourg on employees’ emails, Brexit, and news on sexual offences and abortion rights

In the news this month:

The Brexit Bill

The Bill for the withdrawal from the European Union has been dominating the news over the past few weeks.  Mark Elliott comments that it is ‘difficult to overstate the importance’ of the bill from a constitutional standpoint, and the House of Lords Constitution Committee has said in an interim report that its political, legal and constitutional significance are ‘unparalleled’. Concern has been voiced in various quarters over the use of ‘Henry VIII’ powers (so named because of the monarch’s disdain for parliamentary restraint) which will allow the executive to bypass parliament to ‘tweak’ legislation, and a concomitant lack of sufficiently robust sunset clauses or checks and balances to the handover of such powers. For more detail, I highly recommend listening to David Hart QC’s conversation with Rosalind English on our new podcast series Law Pod, in which he details the potential consequences of the bill in general and in terms of environmental law in particular; you can read his comments here or have a listen here. Continue reading

The biter bit – EU does NOT like being criticised by Aarhus body


ACCC Findings in ACCC/C/2008/32

Last week’s post concerned the judicial review costs system in environmental cases and its compliance with the prohibitively expensive rule Art.9(4) of the Aarhus Convention. 

Now for some more Aarhus developments which happened over the summer, this time involving the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC) having a pop at the narrow EU standing rules applicable to challenges to an act or omission by a EU body, and the EU not liking those findings at all.

Continue reading

Your inspiring Human Rights Act stories

On 2 October it is the 17th birthday of the Human Rights Act – it came into force on 2 October 2000.

Rightsnfo is looking for inspiring stories of how people have used the Human Rights Act to publish as part of a birthday feature:

  • Please send your stories to info@rightsinfo.org
  • No more than 150 words per story
  • Send them by end of Friday 22 September
  • Stories welcome from people who have used the Human Rights Act or lawyers who have used it on people’s behalf (please confirm you have your client/ex-client’s authorisation to share the story).
  • If you have photos to share then please do so

Looking forward to seeing what people send in!