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Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences

Faculty of Law

The Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences is actively involved in the response to COVID-19. Members of the Centre have recently published an article on rationing, and also created a publicly accessible compilation of key literature.

The compilation has a UK / European focus, and is intended to complement the very useful US compilations that are accessible via portals such as:

In addition, Dr Kathy Liddell has been appointed to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG Clinical Ethics Advisory Group.  Kathy is also leading research into 'Deprivation of liberty during the Covid-19 pandemic: special issue of wandering patients with dementia and care home management' - a study which aims to explore the legal implications of restricting wandering patients to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including the impact of public health powers entailed by the Coronavirus Act 2020. Key collaborators on this work are Orna Clark, Head of Mental Health Law, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHSFT, Dr Ben Underwood, Consultant Psychiatrist, Deputy Medical Director CPFT, Dementia Clinical Lead for CRN Eastern, Dr Julian Huppert, Deputy Chair and Lay Member, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, and Andrew Sagar, Research Assistant, Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law.

​​James Parish and John Liddicoat are currently researching the compulsory licensing and Crown use powers found in the Patents Act 1977. They expect these provisions are (or will be) of importance as the UK Government seeks to expediently navigate patent rights protecting medical supplies, including PPE, ventilators, face masks, hand sanitiser and even a vaccine. They propose a fresh reinterpretation of the legislation in light of the crisis. Moreover, they draw specific lessons from intellectual property legislation enacted during the World Wars, which, unbeknownst to many experts, is still in force. During the wars, the Government expediently authorised hundreds of parties to use patents – without authorisation from the patentee – necessary for the public interest. The procedures during the wars demonstrate that a balanced approach to respecting patent rights whilst using patented inventions without consent can be achieved. This research is ongoing and is likely to be completed by the end of the month. It will be of value to policy-makers, IP academics, patent practitioners, and public health experts.

Laura Bradford, Affiliated Lecturer & Senior Research Associate in the Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences, is working on a project entitled 'COVID-19 Mobile Contact Tracing Apps: A Comparison of Regional Data Protection Regimes'. This comparative study looks at the interaction between emergency efforts to track virus exposure and different regional data protection regimes. The first paper analyses regulation of mobile platform technology and associated applications in Europe and the United States, including (a) whether encrypted exposure data is personally identifiable information and (b) for what purposes public authorities and commercial entities may process exposure data. Somewhat counter-intuitively, we find that the comprehensive approach of the GDPR facilitates automatic tracing of disease exposure when compared to more limited data protection regimes in the US.