Prospective Legal Immunity and Assistance with Dying: Submission to the Commission on Assisted Dying
King’s Law Journal, Vol. 23, 2012, pp.181-193
26 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2015 Last revised: 25 Jan 2016
Date Written: 2012
In this paper, our principal purpose is to elaborate and assess the case for introducing a regime of prospective legal immunity for a person, A, who assists with the suicide of another, B, where A acts within the terms of an appropriate covering licence (or authorisation). The attraction of such a regime is twofold: first, it promises to clarify the legal position of A before A undertakes acts of assistance to B; and, secondly, it promises to improve whatever assessments we can make as to B's potential vulnerability (in relation to A or others). Notwithstanding the attractions of such a regime, we do not support a scheme that is entirely prospective. The way forward, we believe, involves a judicious mix of prospective and retrospective (reporting and reviewing) elements.
Keywords: assisted suicide, assisted dying, physician-assisted suicide, prospective legal immunity, prospective approval, criminal law
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