The Revival of Wrongful Life

Event date
24 February 2023
Event time
13:00 - 14:30
Oxford week
HT 6
St Cross Building - White & Case Room

Dr Craig Purshouse, University of Liverpool

(UPDATE: Please note that this event has moved from 1 March to Friday, 24 February.)

Dr Craig Purshouse is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool Law School. Before this, he was a Lecturer in Law at the University of Liverpool (2015-2018) and at the University of Leeds (2018-2021). He is a graduate of the University of Sheffield (LLB, 2010) and the University of Manchester (MA, 2012; PhD, 2016). Craig's research on medical law and torts has been cited by the UK Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal of Singapore, the High Court of England and Wales, and the England and Wales and Scottish Law Commissions. He is currently joint editor of Medical Law International (with Amel Alghrani, Paula Case and Marie Fox) and previously sat on the editorial board of the Medical Law Review.


Wrongful life cases usually involve a disabled child bringing a claim that, due to the defendant’s negligence, the child’s mother was not informed of a foetal abnormality. But for the defendant’s negligence, the child’s mother would have had an abortion. The crux of the child’s claim is not that the doctor’s negligence has caused her disabilities. Rather, it is a claim that the doctor’s negligence has caused her to be born in a condition where he or she is disabled. Such claims were thought to have been ruled out in England by the passing of the Congenital Disabilities (Civil Liability) Act 1976 and the Court of Appeal decision of McKay v Essex AHA. In this paper, I will show how the 1976 Act, together with recent cases such as Toombes v Mitchell and TBS v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, actually permit wrongful life cases in a number of circumstances. I argue that these inconsistencies in the law are difficult to justify and defend the bar on recovery in wrongful life cases. 

Found within

Medical Law and Ethics