After three successful previous installments, the fourth annual ‘Great Medico-Legal Debate’ was held on 24 February 2017 at the University of Glasgow. The Great Medico-Legal Debate is an annual debate on an exciting medical law and ethics topic between five members from each of the University of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow’s law and medical schools, and serves part of the University of Edinburgh’s annual Festival of Creative Learning. This year’s debate concerned whether there should there be a right to be informed about a family member’s genetic disorder. When health care professionals receive a patient’s predictive genetic information, should they owe a legal duty to disclose this information to genetic relatives? The motion for debate was: ‘This House believes that health care professionals in receipt of a patient’s predictive genetic information should owe a legal duty to disclose such information to genetic relatives.’ Glasgow University argued for the motion, whilst Edinburgh University argued against the motion. This is a live issue, in light of a recent court decision of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales (ABC v St Georges Healthcare NHS Trust and Ors), which has been appealed of the Court of Appeal. In a lively debate, the two debate rivals considered issues of privacy, autonomy, and the physician-patient relationship arising over medical genetics. Audience members were asked to consider and vote on the issue after a brief introduction to the topic of duty to disclose genetic information to family members by the Director of the Mason Institute, Professor Graeme Laurie. After arguments took place, audience members were asked to consider their stance and vote once more on whether health care professionals owe a legal duty to genetic information to family members, in light of the debate that took place. Ultimately, after a close competition, the invited expert judge, Dr Mary Neal of the University of Strathclyde, decided in favour of the University of Edinburgh team. After four events, the ‘score’ between the two universities is tied 2-2, thus setting up for a thrilling debate in 2018 to be hosted again at the University of Edinburgh!
The fourth annual ‘Great Medico-Legal Debate’ 24 February 2017