As we reported in the December 2008 Health legal update, Debbie Purdy was unsuccessful in her High Court bid to obtain guidance from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) on the circumstances in which prosecution for assisting suicide is likely to be pursued.

The Court of Appeal has now delivered its judgment and again dismissed her request for specific guidance and ruled that the code of practice for Crown Prosecutors issued by the DPP satisfies human rights convention standards and meets the need for clarity and foreseeability.

However, the judgment did make it clear that the court has the power to impose no penalty if it thinks it appropriate not to do so, a clear indication was that it would be inappropriate to do so in many cases.