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Med Law Rev. 2013 Summer;21(3):487-98. doi: 10.1093/medlaw/fwt004. Epub 2013 Apr 18.

Escaping the shackles of law at the end of life: R (Nicklinson) v Ministry of Justice [2012] EWHC 2381 (Admin).

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  • 1Exeter College, University of Oxford, UK.


This commentary discusses the decision in R (Nicklinson) v Ministry of Justice;(1) it will argue that the court should have allowed the use of the defence of necessity. It argues that the official response of the law should be to outlaw euthanasia or assisted suicide, but also to recognise that in exceptional circumstances these should be permitted. The use of the defence of necessity permits this nuanced response to the issue. The commentary also argues that the treatment of suicidal and elderly people is a far more important issue than creating the correct legal response to assisted dying.


assisted dying; death; euthanasia; human rights; necessity; rule of law

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