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R(purdy) V Dpp Notes

Updated R(purdy) V Dpp Notes

Medical Law Notes

Medical Law

Approximately 1067 pages

Medical Law notes fully updated for recent exams at Oxford and Cambridge. These notes cover all the LLB medical law cases and so are perfect for anyone doing an LLB in the UK or a great supplement for those doing LLBs abroad, whether that be in Ireland, Hong Kong or Malaysia (University of London).

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R(Purdy) v DPP [2009] UKHL 45

House of Lords

Held Lord Hope

  • On one view the law, as it stands, could not be clearer. It is an offence to assist someone to travel to Switzerland or anywhere else where assisted suicide is lawful. Anyone who does that is liable to be prosecuted.

    • He is in the same position as anyone else who offends against section 2(1) of the 1961 Act. As with any other crime, the test that will be applied is that which the Crown Prosecution Service code lays down.

      • He may be prosecuted if there is enough evidence to sustain a prosecution and it is in the public interest that this step should be taken.

      • But the practice that will be followed in cases where compassionate assistance of the kind that Ms Purdy seeks from her husband is far less certain

  • Art 8(1) is engaged as per the ECTHR, in an era of growing medical sophistication combined with longer life expectancies,

    • many people are concerned that they should not be forced to linger on in old age

    • or in states of advanced physical or mental decrepitude which conflict with strongly held ideas of self and personal identity

  • But is it justified?

    • The Convention principle of legality requires the court to address itself to three distinct questions.

      • The first is whether there is a legal basis in domestic law for the restriction.

      • The second is whether the law or rule in question is sufficiently accessible to the individual who is affected by the restriction, and sufficiently precise to enable him to understand its scope and foresee the consequences of his actions so that he can regulate his conduct without breaking the law.

      • The third is whether, assuming that these two requirements are satisfied, it is nevertheless open to the criticism that it is being applied in a way that is arbitrary because, for example, it has been resorted to in bad faith or in a way that is not proportionate

    • The word β€œlaw” in this context is to be understood in its substantive sense, not its formal one

      • This means that it goes beyond statute and includes both enactments of lower rank than statutes and unwritten law. Furthermore, it implies qualitative requirements, including those of accessibility and foreseeability.

        • Accessibility means that an individual must know from the wording of the relevant provision and of it what acts and omissions will make him criminally liable

        • The requirement of foreseeability will be satisfied where the person concerned is able to foresee the consequences which a given action may entail.

          • A law which confers a discretion is not in itself inconsistent with this requirement, provided the scope of the discretion and the manner of its exercise are indicated with sufficient clarity to give the individual protection against interference which is arbitrary

  • Consistency of practice is especially important here.

    • The issue is without doubt both sensitive and controversial

      • Crown prosecutors to whom the decision-taking function is delegated need to be given the clearest possible instructions as to the factors which they must have regard to when they are performing it.

      • The police, who exercise an important discretion as to whether or not to bring a case to the attention of the Crown prosecutors, need guidance also if they are to avoid the criticism that their decision-taking is arbitrary

    • But for anyone seeking to identify the factors that are likely to be taken into account in the case of a person with a severe and incurable disability who is likely to need assistance in travelling to a country where assisted suicide is lawful,

      • the code is not...

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