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Misuse of Genetic Information: The Common Law and Professionals' Liability

58 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2003  

David F. Partlett

Emory University School of Law


As scientific advances take place in mapping the human genome, probing minds have voiced concern about discrimination on the basis of genetic makeup in employment and insurance. The issue has been addressed in numbers of western countries, usually by strong proscriptions against use of genetic information based upon principles of privacy. The article argues that an evolutionary approach in prescribing legal norms to actual abuses is more satisfactory. Placing responsibility on professionals through their duty of confidence may be particularly efficacious in preventing abuses while allowing the optimal disclosure of socially useful information. It is recognized that social norms will also govern the use of genetic information. More generally, the law of torts will implicate the disclosure and use of genetic information.

Suggested Citation

Partlett, David F., Misuse of Genetic Information: The Common Law and Professionals' Liability. Washburn Law Journal, Vol. 42, No. 3. Available at SSRN: or

David F. Partlett (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-712-8815 (Phone)

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