Chapter 7
Certainty about when death occurs

Is there a problem?

7.5Within the context of this review, we have identified two duties that arise at the point of death and for which there may therefore be uncertainty if the point of death is not clearly defined. These are:

7.6Outside the context of this review, the legal question of the definition of death arises in a number of circumstances. Most commonly, it arises in relation to organ transplantation because the patient must be dead before removal of the organs if that removal would otherwise kill the patient. Other examples include insurance law, as the point of death is relevant to whether life insurance may be paid out. The criminal question is also significant—that is, is it murder to remove artificial respiration after brain death?

70We discussed this in Chapter 6.
71We discuss this in Chapter 15.