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Professor Emma Cave

Professor of Healthcare Law


AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor of Healthcare Law in the Durham Law SchoolPCL122+44 (0) 191 33 42829
Professor of Healthcare Law in Durham CELLS (Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences)  
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing  


Professor Cave publishes widely in the field of Health Law and teaches Law and Medicine. The seventh edition of her co-authored book (with Professor Margaret Brazier and Professor Rob Heywood), Medicine, Patients and the Law will be published in May 2023. 

She currently chairs the General Medical Council's Good Medical Practice Advisory Forum and was appointed as a core member to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee Expert Panel in 2022 and the Assurance Group of The Cass Review in 2021. She served as a member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority 2018-2021 where she was Deputy Chair of the Statutory Approvals Committee. She co-convened the Medical Ethics Expert Group of the Infected Blood Inquiry from 2019-2022. 

Her principal areas of research include compulsion, capacity and consent and she has published recently on public health, NHS redress and medical research. Her 2004 monograph, The Mother of All Crimes was reissued in 2018.

Professor Cave has worked on a number of multi-disciplinary research projects. One developed professional training for research ethics committees, another attempted to delimit the research concept. One analysed the role of empirical methods in bioethics, another looked at adoelscent consent to and refusal of medical treatment.

Her latest projects include a British Academy project on the adequacy of ethical advice in the COVID-19 pandemic and an ESRC IAA project on the implications of the Supreme Court judgment Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015] on informed consent. She was awarded a Scottish Parliament Academic Fellowship in 2018 to produce a Scottish Parliament Information Centre Briefing on information disclsoure.

She served on the University Ethics Advisory Committee 2017-2020, the University Research Committee from 2016-2018, and as Deputy Dean (Research) to the Law School from 2014-2018.

Research Supervision

Professor Cave would be delighted to hear from potential students interested in researching legal and ethical issues relating to compulsion, consent, medical research and issues pertaining to the foetus.

Her most recent PhD students research/ed capacity and anorexia nervosa (ESRC funded) and informed consent to abortion (AHRC funded). Please read the information here and contact her to arrange for advice on your draft proposal.

Research interests

  • Consent
  • Compulsion
  • Medical Law
  • Medical Ethics
  • Healthcare research
  • Clinical Negligence
  • Capacity

Research groups

  • Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences
  • Human Rights Centre

Esteem Indicators


Authored book

  • Brazier, Margaret, Cave, Emma & Heywood, Rob (2023). Medicine, Patients and the Law. MUP.
  • Brazier, Margaret & Cave, Emma (2016). Medicine, Patients and the Law. Manchester University Press.
  • Brazier, Margaret & Cave, Emma (2011). Medicine, Patients and the Law. Penguin.
  • Brazier, Margaret & Cave, Emma (2007). Medicine, Patients and the Law. Penguin; Lexis Nexis Butterworths.
  • Cave, Emma (2004). REISSUED 2018: The Mother of All Crimes: Human rights, criminalisation and the child born alive. Routledge.

Book review

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Cave, Emma (2022). Australian Centre for Health Law Research (ACHLR) 10th Annual Public Oration on Adolescent Consent.
  • Cave, Emma (2021). What can Clinical Ethics Committees learn from Research Ethics Committees? at
  • Cave, Emma (2021). How Courts View Clinical Ethics Committees
  • Cave, Emma (2021). Challenging government healthcare guidance (and the lack thereof) in the pandemic at
  • Brierley, Joe, Archard, David & Cave, Emma (2021). Clinical ethics support: Addressing legal uncertainties. Journal of Medical Ethics Blog.
  • Cave, Emma (2020). Why do we need to distinguish ‘valid’ and ‘informed’ consent to medical treatment? JME Blog.
  • Cave, Emma & Gaw, Allan (2017). NIHR Podcast: Clinical Research and Brexit. Podcast.
  • Cave, Emma (2017). Brexit and the regulation of clinical trials. BMJ Opinion.
  • Cave, Emma (2015). Briefing Paper. Young People with Mental Disorder: Towards a law fit for purpose.
  • Cave, Emma (2013). Young People who Refuse Life Sustaining Treatment: A Briefing Paper on Current Law and the Need for Reform.


  • Cave, Emma, Farsides, Bobbie, Kazarian, Melinee, Kerridge, Ian & Savulescu, Julian (2020). Expert Report to the Infected Blood Inquiry: Medical Ethics. Infected Blood Inquiry.
  • Cave, E (2019). Informed Consent in Healthcare Settings. Scottish Parliament.

Supervision students