Criminal Law

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This topic looks at Re (A) (Children) (Conjoined Twins: Surgical Separation), which was a Court of Appeal decision on the separation of conjoined twins that took place in September 2000. The decision of the three judges in Re A was a matter of life or death which required them to grapple with difficult issues of legal principle, policy, ethics and morality.
The Court of Appeal papers for the case can be found here:


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


This case

(1) If you were a judge in this case would you order the surgical separation to take place, knowing that one of the twins would definitely die?
(2) If the twins were separated and one died, could you say that the surgeon had caused the death of that baby and that the surgeon intended to kill the baby?
(3) Should the surgeon have a defence to murder? If so, what should it be?
(4) Is it relevant that the parents of Jodie and Mary did not want the surgery to take place?

Other examples

(5) A and B are rock-climbing. They are tied together by a rope and are near the top of a rock-face. B falls and is hanging from the rope. A cannot hold onto the rock-face for much longer. A cuts the rope and B falls to his death. How would you deal with this problem?
(6) A and B are in a lifeboat without any food and water. B is close to death. A kills B and eats him. A is rescued. How would you deal with this problem?
(7) A is awaiting an urgent heart transplant and has only days left to live. B is suffering from a terminal illness and is close to death. C, a doctor, kills B and transplants his heart (which is unaffected by the illness) in A’s body. How would you deal with this problem?