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Reflections on the Use of Data and Bodily Material of Deceased Persons for Medical Research Under Belgian, Dutch and English Law

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image of European Journal of Comparative Law and Governance

This paper provides a brief comparative comment on the three contributions of van der Hart-Zwart, Boddez & Nys, and Choong & Mifsud Bonnici included in the present volume. The three contributions reflect on the use of medical information and/or human bodily material obtained before or after death and used for medical research purposes after the death. The present reflective note first looks at the legal shortcomings pointed out in the three contributions, primarily the lack of clarity on whether medical confidentiality survives after death, the non-applicability of the right to private life and data protection after death and the incomplete rules on the use of bodily material of deceased persons for medical purposes. The paper then gradually reflects on the way the three jurisdictions combine attempts at legal certainty and pragmatism to deal with these shortcomings.

Affiliations: 1: Rosalind Franklin Fellow & Chair in European Technology Law and Human Rights, University of Groningen, The Netherlands,


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