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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

16 SEP 2011

Can you keep a secret? Children, human rights, and the law of medical confidentiality [2008] CFLQ 312

The existence of competent children's right to medical confidentiality was confirmed in R (Axon) v Secretary of State for Health (Family Planning Association Intervening). However, a number of important questions remained unanswered including: whether non-competent children have a right to medical confidentiality against their parents as well as third parties; when it would be legitimate to override competent and non-competent children's medical confidentiality; whether parents can rely on Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 to claim a right to disclosure of their children's medical information; and, if so, what approach should be adopted where that right comes into conflict with children's Article 8 rights to privacy and confidentiality. These questions will be explored, taking into account the development of the law of confidentiality as a means of protecting Article 8 rights to privacy. It will be argued that children's right to, and decisions regarding, medical confidentiality require greater respect and protection.

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