The workshop is the first stage in a two-year Oxford-Melbourne Partnership project undertaken by Loane Skene (University of Melbourne), Imogen Goold and Jonathan Herring (both University of Oxford) to explore how we should regulate the storage and use of human body parts and tissue. 

Two recent decisions— Jonathan Yearworth and others v North Bristol NHS Trust [2009] EWCA Civ 37 and Bazley v Wesley Monash IVF [2010] QSC 118—have indicated an increasing tendency for the courts to draw on property principles in this context. Our project focuses particularly on whether such an approach is to be preferred. Given the limited application and highly specific fact situations of these two cases, we believe there is considerable scope for further analysis. Most importantly, the implications of expanding this approach to tissue more broadly requires examination as there are many potential problems that might arise with doing so. 

This is a topic that needs legal input from a range of disciplines within the law. We are especially keen to engage academics working in the areas of property law, privacy, intellectual property, equity and trusts and philosophy in the discussion. We also want to bring researchers and medicalpractitioners into this discussion to provide input on their own work with tissue and how the possible approaches for regulating tissue use will affect them in practice. Our aim is to set the agenda for the next stage in the debate over how we should deal with human tissue in the light of these recent decisions. The workshop will comprise roundtable discussions on:

  • The creation and acquisition of rights over tissue
  • Philosophical perspectives on the concept of property and its applicability to human tissue
  • Commercialisation
  • Alternative models for regulation

Lunch will be provided. 

A second workshop is also planned for later in the term.