Introduction - medicine in the courtroom: judges, ethics and the law

Stephen W Smith, John Coggon, Clark Hobson, Richard Huxtable, Sheelagh McGuinness, José Miola, Mary Neal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the ‘conjoined twins’ case, Re A , the Court of Appeal had to issue a judgment under the sharp glare of the global media spotlight, on a question both divisive and morally significant: could English law sanction the separation of two legally distinct but physically united babies, knowing that one would be killed and one saved by the operation, and in the face of a refusal to consent by the parents but with medical opinion that favoured the surgery? In the much-cited dictum that heads this introduction, Ward LJ denies the relevance of the moral or ethical dimensions of the case as a component of his legal determination, 2 despite their obvious and urgent nature. 3 His judicial reasoning, he suggests, draws purely from law. In conceptual legal jargon, he commits to a formalist position: judges should not bring extra-legal considerations to their decision-making, and by implication, can find all of the necessary answers to the question within the law itself.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthical Judgments
Subtitle of host publicationRe-writing Medical Law
EditorsStephen W. Smith, John Coggon, Clark Hobson , Richard Huxtable , Sheelagh McGuinness, José Miola, Mary Neal
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2017


  • medical ethics
  • medico-legal doctrine
  • law
  • medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Introduction - medicine in the courtroom: judges, ethics and the law'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this