UK Court Makes Landmark Ruling in 'Right-to-Die' Campaign

UK Court Makes Landmark Ruling in 'Right-to-Die' Campaign

UK Court Makes Landmark Ruling in 'Right-to-Die' Campaign

In a landmark judgement, the UK Supreme Court today ruled that legal permission will no longer be required to end care for patients in a long-term permanent vegetative state.

However, this could not be done without his family going before a judge to gain legal permission.

Judge Jill Black ruled that food and liquid could be removed by medical staff to let patients die without applying to the Court of Protection if both the family and two doctors are in agreement. Experts said it was improbable he would ever regain consciousness and agreed with family members' decision to withdraw hydration and nutrition - something which usually requires approval from the Court of Protection.

Supreme Court Justice Jill Black dismissed the appeal, saying Mr Y's rights under the European Convention on Human Rights had not been breached.

He has since died, but the case continued to allow the court to make a ruling From June 2017, the 52-year-old financial analyst, identified only as Mr Y, was in a "prolonged disorder of consciousness" after suffering a cardiac arrest.


Tom Lax, a senior solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp, said the judgement, which mentions the costs to the health service of court cases, threatened to reduce legal and moral concerns to political ones.

It was agreed by his family and doctors that withdrawing his feeding tube and allowing him to die would be in his best interests.

Richard Gordon QC, for the Official Solicitor, said that the central issue was whether the obtaining of an order from the Court of Protection, before CANH could lawfully be withdrawn from a person in a PDOC, was unnecessary where treating clinicians and the family agreed it was not in the patient's best interests.

'If the provisions of the MCA 2005 (Mental Capacity Act) are followed and the relevant guidance observed, and if there is agreement upon what is in the best interests of the patient, the patient may be treated in accordance with that agreement without application to the court'.

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