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In the Supreme Court case of Nicklinson & Others

25 June 2014

We acted for an intervener in the Supreme Court case involving Nicklinson & Others. The case was heard by a strong court of nine Law Lords and dealt with difficult and significant issues. Judgment was received today.

The judgment was 220 pages long and confirmed the existing ban on assisted suicide. The Claimants wished to challenge the ban on the basis that it infringed the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case involved a number of complex legal issues; particularly the balance to be struck between the right to life and the right to a private life; the fact that the Supreme Court did have constitutional authority if it wished to make a declaration as to the general prohibition on assisted suicide; the competence of Parliament to assess the issues and experiences both of those in this country and where necessary abroad; and finally the need for the Director of Public Prosecutions to be able to exercise her discretion according to the circumstances of each individual case.

It is likely that the issues involved will be dealt with by Parliament this year. In one shape or form, other cases will come before the Court on these issues as each case needs to be looked at on its own facts.