Informal Legal Change on Assisted Suicide: The Policy for Prosecutors

Legal Studies (Online), October 13, 2010

15 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2010 Last revised: 29 Jul 2015

Date Written: July 19, 2010


Following the House of Lords’ decision in Purdy, the Director of Public Prosecutions issued an interim policy for prosecutors setting out the factors to be considered when deciding whether a prosecution in an assisted suicide case is in the public interest. This paper considers the interim policy, the subsequent public consultation and the resulting final policy. Key aspects of the policy are examined, including the condition of the victim, the decision to commit suicide and the role of organised or professional assistance. The inclusion of assisted suicides which take place within England and Wales makes the informal legal change realised by the policy more significant than was originally anticipated.

Keywords: assisted suicide, PAS, physician-assisted suicide, prosecution policy, assisted dying, legal change, end of life, dying

Suggested Citation

Lewis, Penney, Informal Legal Change on Assisted Suicide: The Policy for Prosecutors (July 19, 2010). Legal Studies (Online), October 13, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Penney Lewis (Contact Author)

King's College London ( email )

London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom
+44 20 7848 1103 (Phone)
+44 20 7848 2465 (Fax)


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