The legal ramifications of Huntington's disease

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Abstract

Huntington's disease (HD) has serious and disabling mental as well as physical effects, in particular symptoms of depression, impulsivity and paranoia. Such symptoms impact upon those who have HD, those with the potential to inherit it, and those who care for and are close to persons with HD. The symptoms can have many legal ramifications, including in relation to evolving impairments of capacity which can have an outcome in terms of involuntary status as mental health patients, testamentary capacity and the need for guardianship and administration orders. The evolving disease can have effects upon fitness for parenting, obligations to pay spousal and child maintenance, and the quantum of compensation from a tortious incident to which a person is entitled. It can have repercussions for criminal liability and culpability. This chapter reviews case law from a number of countries in relation to such matters, noting the broader radiation to relatives and carers of the effects of HD, and reflecting on the need for legal and medical professionals to be aware of the legal consequences of HD so that they can discharge their responsibilities holistically, sensitively and informedly.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuntington's Disease: Symptoms, Risk Factors and Prognosis
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Pages93-119
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9781628083163
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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