A widow has been granted leave to continue her late husband’s challenge to the existing law on murder and assisted suicide.
The Court of Appeal has made an order that Jane Nicklinson (pictured, left), as the administrator of her late husband Tony’s estate, may take forward his case that the current law was incompatible with his rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Article 8 is a qualified right that protects the private life of individuals against arbitrary interference by public authorities and private organisations, such as the media. The concept of private life in UK law is based on the notion that the state should not intrude into the private sphere without strict justification.
Nicklinson, who had been left with ‘locked-in’ syndrome following a stroke, had argued in the High Court last June that in preventing him from taking his own life, the state was applying the current law disproportionately and was infringing his Article 8 rights.
Nicklinson also asked the court to rule that it was legal, on the grounds of necessity, for a doctor to help him end his life. The court was asked to rule on this before his death.
The High Court on 16 August 2012 dismissed both claims. Jane Nicklinson has now been granted leave to appeal the court’s judgment. She has also been granted a protective costs order so that if she loses she will not be liable for the costs of her opponents.
Following the High Court’s ruling, Nicklinson refused nutrition and medical treatment and died of pneumonia less than a week later on 22 August 2012.
Saimo Chahal of London civil liberties firm Bindmans is acting for Jane Nicklinson.