The Judgment of the High Court in Two Right-To-Die Cases

Dr Martin JR Curtice, Dr Rhiannon Kihara

  • Abstract

    This article summarises the judgment from the High Court cases of Tony Nicklinson and ‘Martin’. Both men suffered from locked-in syndrome secondary to catastrophic physical disabilities, but their mental processes were unimpaired. ‘Martin’ wanted the then Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to clarify his policy on assisted dying so that people, including family members, doctors and solicitors, who were willing to assist ‘Martin’ to commit suicide via the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland, would know definitively whether they would face prosecution in England. Tony Nicklinson sought a court declaration that it should not be unlawful, on the grounds of necessity, for any doctor to terminate, or assist to terminate, his life, and that the current law of murder and/or assisted suicide was incompatible with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998. The High Court rejected applications for judicial review. It is not the intention of this article to debate issues relating to assisted suicide, physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia but to provide readers with insight into the legal deliberations relating to this High Court judgment. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Contributors

    Dr Martin JR Curtice, Dr Rhiannon Kihara


    Correct at article publish date

    Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, Birmingham
    Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham. Email:

    Original publishing information

    • Publisher: St Christopher's Hospice
    • Publish date: 01/01/2013
    • Volume: 3
    • Issue: 4

    Permissions: © 2015, Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to

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