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Dr Samantha Halliday

Associate Professor in Biolaw

Associate Professor in Biolaw in the Durham Law School
Co-Director in the Durham CELLS (Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences)
Co-Director in the Institute for Medical Humanities


Sam joined Durham Law School in September 2019 having previously being Professor and Head of the Law School at the University of Huddersfield, an Associate Professor at the University of Leeds, a senior lecturer in law at the University of Liverpool, and lecturer in law at the Universities of Warwick, Swansea and Aberystwyth. She has held visiting positions at the Universität Konstanz (Germany); the Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan (Poland) and the Justus-Liebig- Universität Giessen (Germany).

She gained her undergraduate degree (Law with German Law and Language) from the University of East Anglia. Her doctoral thesis “Constructing the Foetus as a Patient: A Comparative Analysis of Compelled Obstetric Intervention” and subsequent public defence were graded summa cum laude (outstanding) by the Faculty of Law at the Justus-Liebig Universität Giessen, Germany. She was awarded the Promotionspreis der Juristischen Studiengesellschaft Gießen e.V., the prize for the best doctoral theses in the Faculty of Law at the Justus-Liebig University of Giessen. The thesis considered the different models of pregnancy and varying conceptions of protection afforded to the foetus and the pregnant woman in cases where obstetric intervention (primarily a blood transfusion, or a caesarean) is indicated to save the foetus. It adopts a comparative approach, analysing the case law from England and Wales and the United States of America, together with the potential application of the German derivative crime of omission doctrine to the refusal of obstetric intervention required by the foetus. The examiners praised the contribution to the literature made by the work, describing it as making an innovative and ground-breaking contribution to the international literature in the field of European medical and criminal law.

Sam’s research focuses upon comparative medical ethics and law at the beginning and end of life and she has published widely in these areas. She is the author of Autonomy and Pregnancy: A Comparative Analysis of Compelled Obstetric Intervention, Routledge, 2016. This research monograph is part of the prestigious Biomedical Law and Ethics Library and focuses upon the permissibility of encroachment on the pregnant woman’s autonomy in the interests of the foetus. It adopts a comparative approach, drawing on the law in England and Wales, the United States of America and Germany in analysing the tension between a pregnant woman’s autonomy and obstetric intervention undertaken to protect the foetus. Sam’s primary scholarly and research interests are in comparative medical ethics and the law, especially in relation to the beginning and end of life. 

Sam is particularly interested in European comparisons, considering the way in which our European neighbours have sought to resolve the same medico-legal issues and the context in which the varying regulatory models adopted operate. She has held grants from the both the Wellcome Trust and the Modern Law Review to fund symposia relating to mental capacity and end of life decision-making. She is the Principal Investigator an ESRC Research Seminar Series grant for “Towards a European understanding of advance decision-making: a comparative, interdisciplinary approach” (co-investigators: Gillian Hundt (Professor of Social Science in Health, University of Warwick) and Jörg Richter (Professor in Clinical Psychology, Universtität Rostock, University of Hull). The series aims to facilitate the founding of an interdisciplinary European research network investigating the legal, social and medical attitudes toward precedent autonomy within Europe and to developing a European strategy to enhance advance decision-making in all its forms. It encourages a more critical and constructive assessment of the law relating to advance decision-making within Europe, interlinking legal discourse with policy and practice discourses on aspects of mental health and mental incapacity law, promoting a multiperspective dialogue and analysis. It brings together leading researchers, practitioners, PhD students and third sector workers (hospices and health charities) from across Europe. Series website:

She is a Co-Investigator on the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)-funded research project „Die Verjährung als Herausforderung der grenzüberschreitenden Zusammenarbeit in Strafsachen – Entwicklung eines Harmonisierungsvorschlags,“ led by Prof. Dr. Gudrun Hochmayr (Europa-Universität Viadrina, Germany) and Prof. Dr. Walter Gropp (Justus-Liebig Universität Giessen, Germany.). This international project focuses upon liitation periods in criminal law and aims to produce a harmonisation proposal.

She is a member of both the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC’s) Peer Review College and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC’s) Peer Review College. She was a member of the ESRC's commissioning panel for proposals relating to the social and economic context of stem cell research and a review panel member of the MRC (Medical Research Council) & ESRC's Joint Collaborative Career Development (studentship and post-doctoral fellowship) Awards in Stem Cell Research scheme. Sam regularly peer-reviews articles for journals including the Medical Law ReviewMedical Law International and the European Journal of Health Law.

Sam is a member of the Advisory Board of the International Forum for Wellbeing In Pregnancy and is a member of the editorial board of the multidisciplinary journal, Cogent Social Sciences. Her work in relation to end of life decision-making led to her being invited to become a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s end of life decision-making & care committee.

Sam has acted as an external examiner for research degrees and regularly peer-reviews articles for journals including the Medical Law ReviewMedical Law Internationaland the European Journal of Health Law.

She speaks English (native), German, French and Dutch.

Research interests

  • Comparative medical law
  • Medical law
  • Medical ethics
  • Beginning of life
  • End of life
  • Advance decision-making
  • Obstetric intervention
  • Maternal-foetal conflict


Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Supervision students