An application for judicial review of assisted dying laws brought by a severely disabled man, Paul Lamb, will be heard at the High Court in London on Thursday 19 December 2019. The case is listed in Court 3, to be heard not before 12noon. Paul is being supported by Humanists UK in bringing his case.
On 2 October 2019 a judge refused Paul’s written application for judicial review. His renewed application will be heard orally.
Paul, 63 of Leeds, argues the current law – which prohibits any assistance under threat of up to fourteen years’ imprisonment – breaches his human rights, including Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights which protects against discrimination and Article 8 which protects the right to privacy and family life.
He argues the current laws are discriminatory against those with severe disabilities, because an able-bodied person would be able to end their own life if they wished, but the laws which make assisting suicide a criminal offence effectively prevent the severely disabled from doing so. Paul claims this puts severely disabled people at a disadvantage and the failure to make an exception for them is not justified.
In his application Paul claims the recent dismissal of other right to die cases should have no bearing on his own as his arguments are different from the others for example those of Mr Newby and Mr Conway. Paul is not able to end his life through the removal of medical equipment or treatment. Paul is not seeking to restrict his proposed changes to those who have to prove they have only six months to live and does not necessarily involve doctor-assisted suicide. Paul’s arguments centre on the legal issue of discrimination.
Paul was severely injured in a car accident in 1990 and has no function below his neck apart from limited movement in his right arm. He requires around the clock care and knows that, given his condition, he will inevitably need assistance to die.
Rosa Curling, solicitor from Leigh Day representing Mr Lamb, said:
“We believe Paul’s case is distinct from other cases that have been brought regarding the right to die and we look forward to presenting his full application for judicial review to the court.”
Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:
“Paul lives in constant pain and is fighting for the right to be able to choose a compassionate ending if his health worsened and his suffering became too unbearable. We must support people’s autonomy and their right to control what happens to their own bodies – this is the essence of what it means to protect human dignity and prevent suffering. More than 90% of the British public now support a change in the law and several countries internationally have legalised assisted dying. Now really is the time to act and give people like Paul the compassion and dignity they deserve.”