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Key question: How does this relate to the Nicklinson case?

Our view

In the Tony Nicklinson case the Supreme Court’s judgment, in June 2014, rejected the case by a margin of 7-2. Two of the judges – Baroness Hale and Lord Kerr – believed that the blanket ban on assisted suicide was incompatible with human rights law. Three of the judges did not agree, suggested that it could conflict with human rights law, but that Parliament should have the opportunity to address the issue before any decision to change the law was made by the courts. By a 5-4 majority, therefore, the Supreme Court judged that it may be possible in the future to declare the blanket ban on assisted dying as unlawful.

Noel’s case is different to the Nicklinson challenge in that Noel has a terminal illness and his legal team are setting out a strict criteria and clear potential safeguards to protect vulnerable people from any abuse of the system.

These include:

  • that the adult is suffering a terminal illness diagnosed with six months or less to live
  • medical evidence confirms the individual has mental capacity to make the decision
  • evidence that the person’s decision is informed, clear, settled and voluntary
  • medical professionals involved would report the assistance given to an appropriate person or organisation
  • a High Court judge could be asked to confirm the eligibility criteria has been met