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Charles Foster

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Research Associate, the Ethox Centre, Nuffield Department of Population Health

Charles Foster is a Fellow of Green Templeton College, a Research Associate at the Ethox and HeLEX Centres, University of Oxford, and a practising barrister. His current research interests concern human enhancement, theories of dignity, the limits of autonomy and problems of personalization in dementia. His practice at the Bar is entirely in medical law. He has been involved in many of the key cases in recent years, including Purdy in the House of Lords and Tony Nicklinson's attempt to invoke the defence of necessity as a defence to medical murder.

A few representative publications are listed below. A full list of publications is here


Medical Law: A Very Short Introduction: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2013

Dementia: Law and Ethics: Hart (with Jonathan Herring and Israel Doron), forthcoming, 2014

Human dignity in bioethics and law: Hart, 2011

Medical Law Precedents: Wildy, 2010

Choosing Life, choosing Death ? The Tyranny of Autonomy in Medical Law and Ethics: Hart, 2009

Medical mistakes: Claerhout Law Publishers, 2008

Elements of Medical Law: Claerhout Law Publishers, 2008, and Barry Rose Law Publishers, 2005

Regulating Health Care Quality: Legal and Professional Issues: Butterworth Heinemann/Elsevier Science (Editor with John Tingle and Kay Wheat)

Clinical Guidelines: Law, policy and practice: Cavendish, 2002 (editor with John Tingle).

Civil Advocacy: Cavendish (with Charles Bourne, Jacqui Gilliatt and Prashant Popat): 2nd Ed. 2001

Drafting: Cavendish, 2nd Ed. 2001 (with Elmer Doonan). Published also in Chinese, 2008.

Clinical confidentiality: Monitor Press, 2000 (with Nick Peacock)

Disclosure and Confidentiality: FT Law and Tax, 1996 (with T. Wynn and N. Ainley)

Book chapters

The relationship between medical ethics, law and professionalism, in Medical Ethics and Law At a Glance, Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming, 2013

What is health? In Current Legal Issues, OUP, 2013 (with Jonathan Herring)

Report writing and appearing in court: in Wildlife Forensics: Principles and Practice, Ed John and Margaret Cooper, Taylor and Francis, forthcoming, 2013

Veterinary Negligence: in Professional Negligence and Liability, Ed Mark Simpson, Informa/LLP, 2012 (and in previous editions since 2008)

The Carmentis Machine: Legal and ethical issues in the use of neuroimaging to guide treatment withdrawal in newborn infants (with Dominic Wilkinson). In Law and Neuroscience,Ed Michael Freeman, Current Legal Issues Vol. 13, OUP, 2011

Pre-trial clinical negligence issues: In Patient Safety Law: Policy and Practice, Ed John Tingle and Pippa Bark, Routledge, 2011

Challenging the Inquiry: In Public Inquiries, Ed. Jason Beer, OUP, 2011

Oral feeding difficulties and dilemmas: A guide to practical care, particularly towards the end of life: Royal College of Physicians, London (co-author: member of Working Party), 2010

What is the criminal law for? Chapter in ?Advancing Opportunity: routes in and out of criminal justice?, Ed Rob Allen, Smith Institute.

Family law in the Caucasus and Central Asia: 1800: In Encyclopaedia of Women and Islam: Brill Press, 2006

It should be, therefore it is: In Medical Law: Text, Cases and Materials, Oxford University Press: Ed. Emily Jackson, 2006.

Personal Injury Law and Precedents: Jordans/APIL: (contributor) 2006 and subsequent editions to 2010.

Disciplinary jurisdiction over the medical and other healthcare professions, in Regulating Health Care Quality: Legal and Professional Issues: Butterworth Heinemann/Elsevier Science (Editor, Foster, Tingle and Wheat), 2004

Civil procedure, trial issues and clinical guidelines, in Clinical Guidelines: Law, policy and practice: Cavendish, 2002 (Edited Foster and Tingle)

Negligence: the legal perspective. In Nursing Law and Ethics: Blackwell Scientific. 2nd Ed, 2002, and subsequent editions in 2006, 2009 and 2013). Ed. Tingle and Cribb.

Healthcare Law: The impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 (Ed. Garwood-Gowers, Tingle and Lewis): Cavendish, 2001: Chapter on Access, Procedure and the Human Rights Act 1998 in Medical Cases.



Autonomy in the courtroom: a principle fit for purpose? Journal of Moral Philosophy (invited contribution for the Essex Autonomy project special issue of JMP)


When autonomy kills: the case of Ben Garci (with Mirko Garasic) Medicine and Law


Response to McGee re The Double Effect Effect (with Jonathan Herring, Karen Melham and Tony Hope): Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

The elephant in the (board) room: the role of contract research organisations in international clinical research (with Aisha Malik): American Journal of Bioethics (2012) 12(11) 49-50

Putting dignity to work: The Lancet (2012) 379: 9831; 2044-2045

Should female cosmetic genital surgery and genital piercing be regarded ethically and legally as female genital mutilation? (with Brenda Kelly): British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2012: DOI 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2011.03260x

?Please don?t tell me?: The right not to know. (with Jonathan Herring). Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics (2012) 21, 20-29

Welfare means relationality, virtue and altruism (with Jonathan Herring), Legal Studies 480

If you ask the wrong question, you?ll get the wrong answer: Journal of Medical Ethics: 2012: doi. 10.1136/mediethics-2012-100682

What sort of DNAR order is that? (with Tony Hope), Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (2012) 105; 279

Dignity and the ownership of body parts: Journal of Medical Ethics, doi:10.1136/medethics-2012-100763

Assisted Suicide: Engaging with the debate: Living and Dying Well, November 2012

The Double Effect Effect (with Jonathan Herring, Karen Melham and Tony Hope): Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics (2011) 20(1): 46-55

Autonomy, Consent and the law: Review of the book of that name, by Sheila McLean: Mortality: 15(2): 178-179

?Please don?t tell me?: The Right Not to Know? (2011) 21 Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics (with Jonathan Herring) 1-10

Autonomy should chair, not rule: The Lancet, Vol. 375(9712):368-69

Why doctors should get a life: Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 102(12) 519-520

Autonomy and Welfare as Amici curiae (with Mikey Dunn): Medical Law Review, 2010

Turning a blind eye to crime: health professionals and the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (with Tony Hope and Sally Hope): British Journal of General Practice 60(570); 64-65(2)

Abortion: Three perspectives. Review of the book of that name by Tooley, Devine and Jaggar: Contemporary Review

Bad laws: Review of the book of that name, by Philip Johnston, Contemporary Review, Winter 2010

Advance directives and personality-changing illness: British Journal of Nursing (2010) Vol 19, No. 15; 926-927

Medical law too often doffs its cap to the doctor's white coat: The Times, 21 May 2009, Law p. 66

The NHS should not treat self-inflicted illness: Oxford University online debate with Dr. Mark Sheehan

Blaming the patient: Contributory negligence in medical malpractice litigation (with Jonathan Herring): Professional Negligence (2009) Vol. 25(2): 76-90

Animal-Human hybrids: Do theology or philosophy help? Law and Justice: (2008) No. 160: 6-12

Nutritional support at the end of life: legal issues: European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 19(5): 389 (May 2007)

Simple rationality? The law of healthcare resource allocation in England. Journal of Medical Ethics, 2007; 33: 404-407

Should nurses perform surgical abortion? Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care (2007) Vol. 33(3): 221

Blair's laws: an audit of a depressing decade: Contemporary Review, Autumn 2007, p. 304

Submissions from non-existent claimants: The non-identity problem and the law : Medicine and Law: Volume 25 Number 1 (March 2006) (with Professor Tony Hope and Dr. John McMillan)

Always look on the bright side of life: The case of Re MB: Healthcare Risk Report, June 2006, Vol. 12(7): p. 23

The edge of life and the edge of the law: Re MB. Family Law Journal, June 2006, No. 67: p. 8

The role of clinical guidelines in medical negligence litigation: A shift from the Bolam standard? : (with Ash Samanta, Michelle Mello, John Tingle and Jo Samanta): Medical Law Review, 14, Autumn 2006 pp.321-366

Law and the Brain (Review): British Journal of Psychiatry (2006) 189: 570

Will clinical guidelines replace judges? Medicine and Law (2006), Vol. 25: 4: 586-592

Misrepresentations about prognosis and palliative options: some legal considerations: Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, January 2005.

What is man, that the judges are mindful of him? Lessons from the PVS cases: Journal of Philosophy, Science and Law, Vol. 5, September 2005

What autonomy really means: British Medical Journal: 2005; 331: 841-2 (8 October 2005)

?Pro-choice? ought to mean exactly what it says: The Times: 11 October 2005: Law section p. 10

Burke: A tale of unhappy endings: Journal of Personal Injury Law: December 2005, p. 293: [2005] JPIL Issue 4/05: 293 and on the website of the UK Clinical Ethics Network.

Pro-life lobby and its pyrrhic victories: The Times, 26 October 2004: Law section, p. 5

Those about to die must be told all the facts: (Issues of consent in euthanasia): The Times, 3 June 2003: Law section, p. 5

International law: Another casualty of the Iraq War? Contemporary Review, August 2003, p. 76

The questions to ask a husband (or wife) before sex (R v Mohammed Dica): The Times, 21 October 2003: Law Section, p. 6

The price of super-specialism: The demise of the common lawyer: New Law Journal, Vol. 152 No. 7046: p. 1297 (6 September 2002)

Consent and confidentiality: Legal implications of electronic transmission of prescriptions

(With Professor Joy Wingfield): Pharmaceutical Journal, 7 September 2002, (Vol. 269), p. 328.

Plunge in the deep end of the gene pool: The Times, 19 November 2002: Law section p. 4

Fifty glorious legal years? English law during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II: Contemporary Review, December 2002, p. 321


Teaching: Medical Law and Ethics

Other details

Correspondence address:

Ethox Centre
University of Oxford, Badenoch Building, Old Road Campus, Headington, Oxford OX3 7LG

Contact details:

other affiliation(s):

Green Templeton College
Woodstock Road Oxford OX2 6HG

Link to personal web site

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