A judicial review brought by a man with terminal motor neurone disease to challenge the current law on assisted dying is due to be heard at the High Court in mid-July, following a directions hearing which took place yesterday (Monday 22nd May 2017). The Noel Conway v Ministry of Justice case, which is supported by Dignity in Dying, will be heard by three judges over five days in the week commencing the 17th of July 2017.
Noel Conway, 67, a retired college lecturer from Shropshire, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neurone disease, in November 2014. His condition is incurable and he is not expected to live beyond the next 12 months. Noel feels that he is prevented from exercising his right to choice and control over his death under the current law. He fears that without a change in the law he may be forced to suffer against his wishes. Noel, supported by Dignity in Dying, has instructed law firm Irwin Mitchell to bring this case to fight for his right to have the option of an assisted death when he is in his final six months of life.
“I am delighted that my case will be heard in full at the High Court in July. I am glad to hear that, given the importance of the case, it will be presided over by three judges over five days – a testament to how deserving this issue is of full and proper consideration.
“I have brought this case to fight for choice and control at the end of life – for me and for all terminally ill people and their loved ones who are being failed by the current law. I know I am going to die anyway, but how and when should be up to me. To have the option of an assisted death in this country would provide me with great reassurance and comfort. It would allow me to decide when I am ready to go, rather than be forced into a premature death by travelling abroad or be left at the mercy of a cruel illness.”
Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said:
“We are pleased that Noel’s case will get the full High Court hearing it deserves and that his health has been taken in account when expediting the case.
“The current law means that terminally ill Britons are being forced to suffer against their wishes or take drastic measures at home and abroad in order to wrest back control over their deaths. Noel, supported by Dignity in Dying, wants the courts to examine the evidence in full and decide if a blanket ban on assisted dying is lawful.
“We are indebted to Noel and his family for devoting their time and energy to this hugely important case and we look forward to the High Court hearing in July.”
Yogi Amin, partner and head of public law and human rights at Irwin Mitchell, added:
“Noel would like the choice to be able to die with dignity. The world has changed phenomenally in the past few decades with many medical advances but the law on assisted dying for those who are terminally ill hasn’t changed for more than 50 years.
“Three judges will now hear his case in the High Court over five days which shows the level of importance this judicial review case has. The Court will be considering detailed evidence and legal arguments about whether a blanket ban breaches our Human Rights law.”
For further information, photos and interviews with representatives from Dignity in Dying, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 07725 433 025 / 0207 479 7732 or email@example.com / 0207 479 7734
For interviews with representatives from Irwin Mitchell, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 0114 274 4666
Notes to Editor
About the case
Noel Conway, 67, from Shrewsbury, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neurone disease, in November 2014. His condition is incurable and terminal – he is not expected to live beyond the next 12 months.
Noel feels that he is prevented from exercising his right to choice and control over his death under the current law. He fears that without a change in the law he may be forced to suffer against his wishes. Noel is bringing this case against the Ministry of Justice to fight for his right to have the option of an assisted death when he is in his final six months of life.
Noel attended the High Court on March 21st to request permission to bring a legal case.
On Thursday 30th March 2017, a decision was handed down denying permission for the case to proceed. Noel Conway’s legal team successfully appealed this decision on Tuesday 11th April 2017, meaning the case will proceed to a full hearing at the High Court. A directions hearing on Monday 22nd May 2017 determined the procedural arrangements for the High Court hearing, namely that it will take place in the week commencing the 17th of July 2017 over five days, heard by three judges. The courts close for summer on Monday 31st July, and reopen on Monday 2nd October. It is anticipated that a decision will be published on the Conway case after the summer recess.
Also on the morning of Monday 22nd May, the court considered the case of Omid T, a separate legal case to that of Noel Conway. Omid T does not have a terminal diagnosis and is calling for assisted suicide to be made available to anyone who is suffering unbearably, not just those who are dying. His case was granted permission to proceed but it will not be joined with Noel Conway’s.
About Dignity in Dying
Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
For more information, visit www.dignityindying.org.uk
About Irwin Mitchell
Irwin Mitchell is over 100 years old and is one of the largest law firms in the UK. Last year Irwin Mitchell merged with Thomas Eggar LLP expanding its presence in London and the South East and has also acquired specialist Personal Injury firm MPH Solicitors and private wealth firm Berkeley Law in the past few years.
The firm is ranked as a market-leading personal legal services firm in the independent Legal 500 and Chambers UK guides to UK law with over 100 lawyers personally recommended. For more information, visit www.irwinmitchell.com