Imogen Goold and Jonathan Herring (Oxford) together with Loane Skene (Melbourne) have been successful in an Oxford-Melbourne Law School Research Partnerships Application for research into the Legal principles underlying the law on storage of human tissue for 2011-12. The project will be looking at the legal treatment of separated body parts. Some commentators have argued that the law should recognise a right of ‘ownership’ or ongoing control in relation to excised human tissue. However, that view has not been accepted as a general legal principle. Until recently, the legal position was that people do not have any proprietary interests in their excised tissue. Recently, however, a limited exception was recognised in the English case of Jonathan Yearworth and others v North Bristol NHS Trust  EWCA Civ 37 and the Australian decision of Bazley v Wesley Monash IVF  QSC 11. Taken together, Yearworth and Bazley evidence a shift towards a new approach to the status of human tissue, but given their limited application and highly specific fact situations, there is considerable scope for further analysis. In particular, 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 collaboration will involve an investigation of how the law in this area might develop and the longer-term consequences of adopting a particular conceptual model.
Also involved in the project are Ben Mcfarlane (Oxford Law) Jane Kaye (Oxford - HeLEX) and Chris Dent and Julian Savulescu (Oxford Philosophy).
The Oxford Law Faculty is very pleased to be extending its collaboration with Melbourne Law School in this way.