Applications challenging the ban on assisted suicide as contrary to ECHR, art 8 were inadmissible


Re: Nicklinson and Lamb v United Kingdom (App Nos. 2478/15 & 1787/15)

The ECtHR has held unanimously that two applications concerning the compatibility of the ban on assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia with ECHR, art 8 are inadmissible. Assisted suicide is prohibited in UK law by the Suicide Act 1961, s 2(1) and voluntary euthanasia is considered to be murder.

The first applicant argued that the UK court had not adequately considered how the law on assisted suicide interfered with her and her now deceased husband’s right to respect for private and family life. Her husband had suffered from locked-in syndrome and wished to end his life.The ECtHR held that ECHR, art 8 did not impose an obligation requiring states to consider the merits of challenges to primary legislation, but that the Supreme Court had in fact examined the substance of the complaint in this instance. Therefore the application was manifestly ill-founded.

The second applicant was paralysed and also sought to end his life. He challenged the refusal of the court to permit a volunteer to administer the lethal drug with his consent. The ECtHR rejected this claim as he had not exhausted all domestic remedies.

Guy Vassall-Adams was involved in this case.