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  • November 2009: Environmental beliefs and assisted suicide

In November 2009, an employment tribunal ruled that environmental beliefs were entitled to the same protection at work as religious beliefs. Mr Justice Michael Burton decided that: ’A belief in man-made climate change, and the alleged resulting moral imperatives, is capable if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the 2003 Religion and Belief Regulations’. He outlined five tests to determine whether a philosophical belief could come under employment regulations on religious discrimination: the belief must be genuinely held; it must be a belief and not an opinion or view based on the present state of information available; it must be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life; it must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance; and it must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

See: the Guardian.


  • 23 September 2009: prosecution for assisting suicide

The Director of Public Prosecutions issued a consultation document, drafting guidelines listing the factors by which the Crown Prosecution Service should judge whether to prosecute those assisting suicide. A final policy document is due in early 2010. The press release including a link to the consultation document is available here

  • 30 July 2009: assisted suicide

Campaigner Debbie Purdy won a historic judgement from the House of Lords regarding assisted suicide. Five law lords unanimously ruled that the DPP should publish guidelines as to when prosecutions would and would not be pursued against those helping others end their lives. The offence of assisted suicide remains, under the Suicide Act 1961, but the ruling aims to clarify the situation for those involved in ’compassionate’ assisted suicide.

See: the Guardian; the judgement ([2009] UKHL 45) is available on Hansard.

D 2 December 2009    ASiobhan McAndrew

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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