Issues that were sidestepped in landmark ‘right to die’ judgments are to be tested in the High Court, it emerged today.
A statement of facts and grounds in Omid v The Ministry of Justice put before the court today seeks a declaration that the Suicide Act 1961 and the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 are incompatible with the Human Rights Act. It notes that the claim will allow evidence to be considered that was inadmissible in the 2014 Nicklinson Supreme Court case for reasons specific to that case.
The new claim on behalf of Omid focuses attention on the role of parliament. Ruling in Nicklinson, Lords Neuberger, Mance and Wilson said that parliament should debate the issues prior to any declaration of incompatibility.
In the absence of that, Neuberger said, ‘there is a real prospect that a further, and successful, application for a declaration of incompatibility may be made’. Neuberger accepted the possibility that existing legislation breached the HRA.
Inconclusive parliamentary debates, including failed private members bills, have considered the position of people with a short life expectancy, measured in months. Omid, who has the neurodegenerative disease multiple system atrophy, likely has years to live, though the condition is irreversible and deteriorating.
The claim also references developing jurisprudence in other common law jurisdictions, including Canada.
Omid’s solicitor is Bindmans partner Saimo Chahal QC (hon). There is a campaign to crowdfund the case and a costs cap is sought. He seeks a court order to protect the privacy, identification and location of his family.