The applicant was terminally ill, and entirely dependent upon her husband for care. She foresaw a time when she would wish to take her own life, but would not be able to do so without the active assistance of her husband. She sought a proleptic permission, a promise that he would not be prosecuted.
Held: The right to life does not include the right to any particular form of death. Article 2 was rather intended to reflect the sanctity of life. Assisted suicide remained a criminal offence, and a clear distinction remains between acts which might have the effect of shortening a life but which had some other palliative purpose, and such acts without any palliative purpose. It could not be said in any way that her condition was somehow any form of torture inflicted by the state, nor was a refusal to allow the assistance discriminatory against those who were unable to help themselves. Since the executive had no power to dispense with or suspend laws or their execution without Parliamentary consent, the DPP had no power to undertake that a crime yet to be committed should be immune from prosecution.
Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Steyn, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough and Lord Scott of Foscote
Times 05-Dec-2001,  UKHL 61,  1 AC 800,  3 WLR 1598,  2 Cr App R 1,  1 FCR 1,  UKHRR 97,  ACD 41,  1 All ER 1,  1 FLR 268, 11 BHRC 589, (2002) 63 BMLR 1,  Fam Law 170,  HRLR 10
House of Lords, Bailii
European Convention on Human Rights, Suicide Act 1961 2(1) 2(4)
England and Wales
Cited – Airedale NHS Trust v Bland HL 4-Feb-1993
Procedures on Withdrawal of Life Support Treatment
The patient had been severely injured in the Hillsborough disaster, and had come to be in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). The doctors sought permission to withdraw medical treatment. The Official Solicitor appealed against an order of the Court . .
Cited – In re J (a Minor) (Wardship: Medical treatment) CA 1-Oct-1990
J was born at 27 weeks’, weighing only 1.1kg. He suffered very severe and permanent brain damage at the time of his birth, the brain tissue then lost being irreplaceable. He was epileptic and the medical evidence was that he was likely to develop . .
Appeal from – Regina (Pretty) v Director of Public Prosecutions, and Another, Medical Ethics Alliance and Others, interveners Admn 18-Oct-2001
The function of the Director’s office is statutory, and his powers are those laid down. He is not able to excuse possible criminal conduct in advance, and nor could he establish a policy of not applying certain statutory provisions. The Suicide Act . .
At HL – Pretty v The United Kingdom ECHR 29-Apr-2002
Right to Life Did Not include Right to Death
The applicant was paralysed and suffered a degenerative condition. She wanted her husband to be allowed to assist her suicide by accompanying her to Switzerland. English law would not excuse such behaviour. She argued that the right to die is not . .
Applied – Regina (Haggerty and others) v St Helens Borough Council QBD 8-Apr-2003
The claimants were residents in a private nursing home. As a result of the respondent’s failure to increase fees, the home would have to close. They sought a review of the respondent’s decision saying that it would infringe their rights to private . .
Cited – Regina v Her Majesty’s Attorney General ex parte Rusbridger and Another HL 26-Jun-2003
Limit to Declaratory Refilef as to Future Acts
The applicant newspaper editor wanted to campaign for a republican government. Articles were published, and he sought confirmation that he would not be prosecuted under the Act, in the light of the 1998 Act.
Held: Declaratory relief as to the . .
mentioned – Kennedy v Regina CACD 17-Mar-2005
The court considered when it was appropriate to find someone guilty of manslaughter where that person has been involved in the supply of a Class A controlled drug, which is then self administered by the person to whom it is supplied, and the . .
Cited – Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club and Another v Corporation of London and Another Admn 26-Apr-2005
Swimmers sought to be able to swim unsupervised in an open pond. The authority which owned the pond on Hampstead Heath wished to refuse permission fearing liability for any injury.
Held: It has always been a principle of the interpretation of . .
Cited – Adam, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Limbuela v Same; Tesema v Same HL 3-Nov-2005
The applicants had each entered the UK with a view to seeking asylum, but having failed to seek asylum immediately, they had been refused any assistance, were not allowed to work and so had been left destitute. Each had claimed asylum on the day . .
Cited – Animal Defenders International, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport HL 12-Mar-2008
The applicant, a non-profit company who campaigned against animal cruelty, sought a declaration of incompatibility for section 321(2) of the 2003 Act, which prevented adverts with political purposes, as an unjustified restraint on the right of . .
Cited – Purdy, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of Public Prosecutions and Another QBD 29-Oct-2008
The applicant suffered mutiple sclerosis and considered that she might wish to go abroad to end her life. She asked the court to make more clear the guidance provided by the Director as to whether her partner might be prosecuted under section 2(1) . .
Cited – Purdy, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of Public Prosecutions and Another Admn 29-Oct-2008
The applicant said that the defendant had unlawfully failed to provide detailed guidance under section 10 of the 1985 Act, on the circumstances under which a prosecution might lie of a person performing acts which might assist another to commit . .
Cited – Purdy, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of Public Prosecutions and others CA 19-Feb-2009
The claimant suffered a debilitating terminal disease. She anticipated going to commit suicide at a clinic in Switzerland, and wanted first a clear policy so that her husband who might accompany her would know whether he might be prosecuted under . .
Overruled in Part – Purdy, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 30-Jul-2009
Need for Certainty in Scope of Offence
The appellant suffered a severe chronic illness and anticipated that she might want to go to Switzerland to commit suicide. She would need her husband to accompany her, and sought an order requiring the respondent to provide clear guidelines on the . .
Cited – Nicklinson v Ministry of Justice and Others QBD 12-Mar-2012
The claimant suffered locked-in syndrome and sought relief in a form which would allow others to assist him in committing suicide. The court considered whether the case should be allowed to proceed rather than to be struck out as hopeless.
Cited – Nicklinson and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v A Primary Care Trust CA 31-Jul-2013
The claimant had suffered a severe form of locked-in syndrome, and would wish to die. He sought a declaration that someone who assisted him in his siuicide would not be prosecuted for murder.
Held: The position in law that voluntary euthanasia . .
Cited – Nicklinson and Another, Regina (on The Application of) SC 25-Jun-2014
Criminality of Assisting Suicide not Infringing
The court was asked: ‘whether the present state of the law of England and Wales relating to assisting suicide infringes the European Convention on Human Rights, and whether the code published by the Director of Public Prosecutions relating to . .
Cited – Kenward and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v The Director of Public Prosecutions and Another Admn 4-Dec-2015
The claimants challenged the policy issued by the DPP on assisted suicide following the Nicklinson case.
Held: The request for judicial review was refused.
Sir Brian Leveson P said: ‘It is important not to misunderstand the effect either . .
Cited – SG and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions SC 18-Mar-2015
The court was asked whether it was lawful for the Secretary of State to make subordinate legislation imposing a cap on the amount of welfare benefits which can be received by claimants in non-working households, equivalent to the net median earnings . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Crime, Human Rights
Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.166945