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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Coroners and Justice Bill 2008-09

While everyone`s attention is presently engrossed in the Recession/Depression, the House of Commons has on 26 January 2009 given a Second Reading to the Coroners and Justice Bill 2008-09

The official summary of the Bill states that it is a Bill:

"to amend the law relating to coroners and to certification and registration of deaths; to amend the criminal law; to make provision about criminal justice and about dealing with offenders; to make provision about the Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses; to make provision relating to the security of court and other buildings; to make provision about legal aid; to make provision for payments to be made by offenders in respect of benefits derived from the exploitation of material pertaining to offences; to amend the Data Protection Act 1998; and for connected purposes. "


Hidden in the middle of the huge Bill are Clauses 46 to 48 and Schedule 10.

These unhighlighted parts amend the Suicide Act 1961`s provisions in regard to encouraging or assisting suicide.

The Government in its commentary states:

"Clause 46 replaces the substantive and attempt offences with a single offence expressed in terms of “encouraging or assisting” the suicide or attempted suicide of another person.

The clause modernises the language of the current law with the aim of improving understanding of this area of the law. It is in line with the case law relating to the existing substantive and attempt offences.

The clause does not change the scope of the current law."
(emphasis added)

One hopes that the Bill goes through as presently drafted and that there are no attempts to "liberalise" the provisions to allow the assisting of suicide.