Court of Appeal allows ‘L’ to join Tony Nicklinson Claim

20 March, 2013

The Court of Appeal has decided that a man called ‘L’ can be joined to the legal case of the late Tony Nicklinson’s claim to establish the right to a doctor assisted death. Jane Nicklinson has pursued the claim in her own right under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the Administratix of the Estate of Tony Nicklinson.  The British Humanist Association (BHA), which has intervened in the claims, very much welcomes this news.

‘L’ was immobilised after an accident in 1990, feels that he is trapped in his body, and that he cannot enjoy or endure a life that is so monotonous and painful and lacking in autonomy.  ‘L’ wishes to have a doctor end his life, and is seeking the same declaration originally sought by Tony Nicklinson in the legal proceedings.  The Court has now ordered that ‘L’ may be added as a new party to proceedings under Civil Procedure Rules.  The Divisional Court was fully seized of the necessity argument and gave judgment on it, and it was only because of Tony Nicklinson’s death that the argument was not pursued on appeal.  Now that the Court of Appeal has allowed ‘L’ to proceed with the claim, the next hearing is due to take place in May over two days.

Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the BHA commented ‘We are very pleased that the court has recognised the importance of allowing “L” to be joined to the case, so that the necessity argument can be heard on appeal.’

‘We are intervening in these cases because we believe that mentally competent adults should be able to make decisions about their lives, as long as they do not result in harm to others.  We have made a submission supporting the case with the principles of autonomy and necessity argued for strongly by some of the most eminent moral philosophers in the country including Richard Norman, John Harris, A C Grayling and Simon Blackburn.  In cases where a patient is suffering incurably, is permanently incapacitated, and has made a clear and informed decision to end their life but is unable to do so independently, the law should allow a doctor to intervene’




For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at or on 0773 843 5059.


Information on ‘L’ claim


Previous media coverage of Tony Nicklinson’s legal case:


The Channel 4 Dispatches programme:


Tony Nicklinson’s Twitter page:!/TonyNicklinson


Previous BHA News articles on the issue of assisted dying:


The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.