Work to be done: an inquiry concerning legal certainty in the fourth evaluation of the Dutch euthanasia act | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
2004
Volume 45, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0167-2444
  • E-ISSN: 2949-8651

Abstract

Abstract

Legal certainty – that is predictability of law – is not just a legal principle but also an empirical topic. And as an empirical topic legal certainty can both be a goal and a means to achieve ends (‘factual legal certainty’). As concerns the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act, these ends involve next to legal certainty, to promote social transparency and to guarantee the carefulness of ending life on request. In this article, it is argued that legal certainty has not been properly examined in the fourth evaluation of the Act. Therefore, the results that are offered by the evaluation cannot support the conclusion that the goal of legal certainty has been achieved. The article proposes to operationalize factual legal certainty as knowledge of the rules and being able to predict how the relevant government agencies will act. Such an operationalization of legal certainty has been used before (Marseille 1993). A comparison between Marseille’s findings regarding legal certainty and what is known in this respect about euthanasia supposes that legal certainty regarding euthanasia law is to be expected. The conclusion is that an examination of legal certainty is possible ánd required.

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