Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 187–193 | Cite as

Comments on the Lambert case: the rulings of the French Conseil d’État and the European Court of Human Rights

  • Denard VeshiEmail author


This study examines the decisions of the French Conseil d’Etat (Supreme Administrative Court) and the European Court of Human Rights in the Lambert case concerning the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments. After presenting the facts of this case, the main legal question will be analyzed from an ethical and medical standpoint. The decisions of the Conseil d’État and then of the European Court of Human Rights are studied from a comparative legal perspective. This commentary focuses on the autonomous will of an unconscious patient and on the judicial interpretation of the right to life as recognized in article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Furthermore, it medically classifies artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) as a “treatment” which has ethical and legal implications. While the majority of the bioethical community considers ANH a medical treatment, a minority argues that ANH is basic care. This classification is ambiguous and has conflicting legal interpretations. In the conclusion, the author highlights how a French lawmaker in February 2016, finally clarified the status of ANH as a medical treatment which reconciled the different values at stake.


Artificial nutrition and hydration Medical jurisprudence Proxy Right to life 



Dr. Denard Veshi is grateful to the suggestions given by M.D. Gerald Neitzke (Interim Director, Institute for History, Ethics and Philosophy of Medicine; Chairman, Clinical Ethics Committee; Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany). Moreover, Dr. Veshi would like to show his honest appreciation to the comments given by the reviewers and by the editor.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New York TiranaTiranaAlbania

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