Children and refusal of medical treatment

in urgent need of reform.

Nicholas Lennings*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


The ability of children to refuse medical treatment is far from certain. The New South Wales Law Reform Commission report on this topic, released in 2008, addressed a number of key concerns. As yet, no action on that report has been taken. Neither the present statutory nor common law regime provides sufficient guidance on this issue. The case of Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority [1986] AC 112, while important, is not as far-reaching as it first appeared and has been subject to substantial limitations regarding refusals of treatment. Specifically, the position in relation to the assessment of competency, and the weight of a competent decision, remains outstanding. The ability of children to refuse medical treatment is in urgent need of attention and rectification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-141
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Law and Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

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