Course Code : LAW 417

Course Title : Health Care Law

Weekly Teaching Hour: 1 (2-hour) seminar per week

Who may enrol : Optional course for year 4 (Senior) LLB students .

Prerequisites : Previously studied and passed a Laws course

Lecturer : To be announced on August 2020

Description : Health care raises important issues of public morality in very personal contexts. Some are old (e.g. abortion, euthanasia), others are new (e.g. gene editing, cloning). The law is not the only tool that we use to make sense of them but it has an important role to play.

Recent Supreme Court cases have asserted an increased jurisdiction for the courts over clinical freedom and also over Parliamentary sovereignty on matters of health care ethics.

This course explores conceptual concerns, including the acceptability of imposing moral values in a pluralist society, aspects of constitutional legitimacy raised by the law-making processes, and questions about clinical freedom, indeterminacy and the Rule of Law.

It examines them through substantive topics, selected after discussion with students. They are likely to include consent to treatment, confidentiality and the use of health information, medical termination of pregnancy, assisted reproductive technologies, the use of human tissue for transplantation and research, end-of-life care (including assisted suicide and euthanasia) and some aspects of public health law (e.g. liability for disease transmission) and NHS Law (rationing and rights to care).

Attention will be paid to the differences between regulatory strategies; different branches of the law (e.g. criminal, tort and public), ideas of rights (including human rights), the roles of the courts, and licensing systems.

The course examines how public controversies are managed through legal means (e.g. NHS accountability following the Francis Report), and assesses current legal developments  including the implications of recent Supreme Court cases that seem to signal a sea change in judicial approaches (two major decisions on end-of-life care, one on informed consent, and one on professional rights of conscientious objection).

Recommended Textbook (s) and Supplementary Books :

There is a wide range of literature available; textbooks, public and Parliamentary reports, specialist journals (especially the Medical Law Review and the Journal of Medical Ethics).

You will not need to purchase a textbook, but could have a look at

  1. E. Jackson Medical Law, Text and Materials 4th ed OUP 2016) or
  2. K Mason & G. Laurie, Mason and McCall Smith’s Law and Medical Ethics (10th ed OUP 2016).
  3. The Lecturer will provide advice on readings for the law reform project to students once they have selected their topic.

Course Assessment:

  • Class Participation 10%,

  • Mid-term Examination 30%,

  • Assignments 10%, 2 x formative essays

  • Final Examination 50%, 50% Unseen 2-hour written examination,

50% Essay (5,000 words)

Attendance 95 % compulsory.