Professor (Emeritus) of Forensic Medicine

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Professor Ken Mason has a long-standing international reputation in the investigation of transport accidents, and in the fields of forensic medicine and pathology generally. He is still publishing in this area - the third edition of The Pathology of Trauma was published in 1999, the fourth edition of Forensic Medicine for Lawyers in 2000, the seventh edition of Mason and McCall Smith's Law and Medical Ethics in 2005, and The Troubled Pregnancy in 2007. In recent years, Ken Mason has undertaken extensive research in medical law and medical ethics, with particular emphasis on the jurisprudence developing around reproductive medicine. He has written several books and articles in this area. He has a practical interest in the medical and scientific aspects of road traffic law.


Professor J. Kenyon Mason's homepage at Edinburgh Law School


Professor Ken Mason has a long-standing international reputation in the investigation of transport accidents, and in the fields of forensic medicine and pathology generally. He is still publishing in this area - the third edition of The Pathology of Trauma was published in 1999, the fourth edition of Forensic Medicine for Lawyers in 2000, the seventh edition of Mason and McCall Smith's Law and Medical Ethics in 2005, and The Troubled Pregnancy in 2007. In recent years, Ken Mason has undertaken extensive research in medical law and medical ethics, with particular emphasis on the jurisprudence developing around reproductive medicine. He has written several books and articles in this area. He has a practical interest in the medical and scientific aspects of road traffic law.


Professor J. Kenyon Mason's homepage at Edinburgh Law School

Books and Reports

Graeme Laurie, Ken Mason, Mason and McCall Smith's Law and Medical Ethics, (Oxford University Press, 2013)
Abstract: This classic textbook has provided students of medical law and ethics with a framework for exploring this fascinating subject for over 25 years. Providing coverage of all of the topics found on medical law courses, it gives an overview of the inter-relationship between ethical medical practice and the law. The authors, both hugely experienced and influential in the field, offer their own opinions on current debates and controversies, and thereby encourage readers to formulate their own views and arguments.As a still-developing discipline, medical law is significantly shaped by the courts, and as such this book provides extensive coverage of recent judicial decisions as well as statutory developments. This edition continues to take a comparative approach, with particular importance attached to the shift in influence from transatlantic jurisdictions to those of the EU.This book has continually evolved to reflect changes in the law and shifting ethical opinions - this ninth edition continues to fulfil this remit and is essential reading for any serious medical law student or practitioner, as well as being of interest to all those involved in the delivery and control of modern healthcare.Readership: This text is primarily for undergraduate students opting to take medical law modules, or postgraduates studying medical law and ethics. It is also sometimes used on nursing and medicine courses as supplementary reading.

Graeme Laurie, Ken Mason, Mason and McCall Smith's Law and Medical Ethics, (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Graeme Laurie, Ken Mason, End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill, (AHRC Research Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law, 2010)

Graeme Laurie, Ken Mason, Mason and McCall Smith's Law and Medical Ethics, (Oxford University Press, 2006)
Abstract: This is the seventh edition of this medical law textbook, and continues to provide an overview of the inter-relationship between medical ethics and practice and the law. There is, therefore, an emphasis on those aspects of medical practice that are governed, to a large extent, by the moral law. However, medical law, as such, is still a developing discipline which is being mainly shaped by the courts and there is extensive coverage of seminal and recent judicial decisions, particular attention being given to those which define the limits of professional freedom in the light of the increasing importance attached to personal autonomy. The book incorporates a strong element of comparative medical law having a particular interest in the shift of influence from other Anglophone jurisdictions to those in Europe. The text is directed in the main to students and practitioners of law but the overarching importance attached to ethical principles broadens its appeal to all those involved in the control and delivery of modern healthcare.

Ken Mason, Graeme Laurie, Alexander McCall-Smith, Law and Medical Ethics, (Butterworths, 2002)
Abstract: This new edition of Law and Medical Ethics continues to chart the ever-widening field that the topics cover. The interplay between the health caring professions and the public during the period intervening since the last edition has, perhaps, been mainly dominated by wide-ranging changes in the administration of the National Health Service and of the professions themselves but these have been paralleled by important developments in medical jurisprudence.

Ken Mason, Forensic Medicine for Lawyers, (Butterworths, 2000)
Abstract: Now in its fourth edition, this book provides a broad overview of the medico-legal issues arising in both criminal and civil proceedings. The new edition ensures the text is brought fully up to date with new material on wounds, explosions, head injury, transplantation, asphyxia, marriage and pregnancy, and the legal aspects of medical practice.

Ken Mason, Basil Purdue, The Pathology of Trauma, (CRC press, 1999)
Abstract: This is a comprehensive reference text that approaches the forensic aspects of trauma from the conditions in which they arise. It looks at the circumstances in which injuries occur, the types of injury sustained and their avoidance/prevention. The body's reaction, both physiological and psychological, to injury is described from a forensic perspective, with emphasis on the type of violent injuries likely to be encountered by the general surgeon and hospital pathologist. This third edition has an increased level of detail and takes into account the changing concerns with regard to trauma.

Ken Mason, Medico-Legal Aspects of Reproduction and Parenthood, (Ashgate Publishing, 1998)
Abstract: This work is concerned, in the main, with reproduction - for which marriage is not an essential prerequisite. Nevertheless, much of sexuality and the greater part of parenthood still subsist within the marital relationship. Sex and marriage are interdependent - indeed the definition of the latter depends on the former. After looking at the prerequisites for marriage and for making a marriage void, the author shows that the medico-legal interests of marriage relate to the mental health and the sex of the parties. The author also looks at various aspects of the sexual-familial relationship, including contraception, sterilization, abortion, protection of the foetus, foetal experimentation, the infertile husband, the infertile woman, defective neonates and infants, consent to treatment and research in children, the protection of young children and the killing of children within the family. Cases are used to highlight the legal aspects of these subjects.

Ken Mason, David Gee, The Courts and the Doctor, (Oxford University Press, 1990)
Abstract: The virtual elimination of traditional forensic medicine from the undergraduate medical curriculum means that doctors often graduate having had minimal exposure to the influence of the law on medical practice. Yet some aspects of this are unavoidable and, in particular, no doctor can assume that he or she will never be required to give evidence in court. Medical evidence in the lower courts is increasingly being given in written form. As a result, the doctor's first appearance in the witness box may well be in the Crown Court or the High Court - indeed it may well be that the witness' own professional conduct is under scrutiny. Such an appearance may be disturbing to some; to others, the legal process may seem to border on the absurd. In either event, prior understanding is likely to result in an improved quality of evidence. This book seeks to provide some of the information which may help the inexperienced witness, be he anything from a simple witness as to fact, to a senior consultant engaged as an expert in civil litigation. The authors have combined some relatively theoretical background to the legal process with practical advice - much of which is based on their own fortunes and misfortunes. It cannot be denied that medical and scientific evidence has come in for some criticism recently. The objective sought is to improve its quality through an understanding of the systems of justice.

Ken Mason, Paediatric Forensic Medicine and Pathology, (Chapman & Hall, 1989)
Abstract: A feature of forensic medicine is that it crosses both medical and legal boundaries. The increasing complexity of modern medicine and the changing attitudes of patients to the provision of medical care dictate the need for a corresponding increase in forensic medical knowledge. This is particularly true in the case of paediatric forensic medicine and pathology. Children are not simply small adults. They have their special medico-legal problems just as they need a distinct clinical expertise. The medico-legal problems of childhood, including the very topical subjects of assisted reproduction and of child abuse, are worldwide. The editor has had an opportunity to combine legal and medical experience and has introduced a format in forensic medical writing whereby doctors and lawyers contribute to distinctive parts of the whole work. As a result the book should appeal to practitioners in both professions who are concerned with the medico-legal aspects of reproduction, infancy and childhood.

Ken Mason, Human Life and Medical Practice, (Edinburgh University Press, 1988)
Abstract: Discusses ethical issues involving terminal illness, euthanasia, suicide, brain damage, birth defects, abortion, and in vitro fertilization.

Ken Mason, Aviation Accident Pathology: A Study of Fatalities, (Butterworth, 1962)


E. Garlatti, S. Carretta, P. Santini, G. Amoretti, M. Mariani, A. Lascialfari, S. Sanna, K. Mason, J. Chang, P. Tasker, E. K. Brechin, 'Relaxation dynamics in a Fe7 nanomagnet ', (2013), Physical Review B: Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, Vol 87
Abstract: We investigate the phonon-induced relaxation dynamics in the Fe-7 magnetic molecule, which is made of two Fe3+ triangles bridged together by a central Fe3+ ion. The competition between different antiferromagnetic exchange interactions leads to a low-spin ground state multiplet with a complex pattern of low-lying excited levels. We theoretically investigate the decay of the time correlation function of molecular observables, such as the cluster magnetization, due to the spin-phonon interaction. We find that more than one time contributes to the decay of the molecular magnetization. The relaxation dynamics is probed by measurements of the nuclear spin-lattice relaxation rate 1/T-1. The interpretation of these measurements allows the determination of the magnetoelastic coupling strength and to set the scale factor of the relaxation dynamics time scales. In our theoretical interpretation of 1/T-1 data we also take into account the wipeout effect at low temperatures.

Ken Mason, 'Debating Euthanasia: Book review', (2012), Social and Legal Studies, Vol 21, pp 430-34

Ken Mason, 'Autonomous Humanity?: In Tribute to Margaret Brazier', (2012), Medical Law Review, Vol 20, pp 150-56

Ken Mason, Graeme Laurie, 'Assistance in Dying or Euthanasia?: Comments on the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill', (2010), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 14, pp 493-97

Ken Mason, 'Unalike as Two Peas?: R (on the application of Purdy) v DPP', (2009), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 13, pp 298-302

Ken Mason, 'The Harm Paradox: Tort Law and the Unwanted Child in an Era of Choice', (2007), Medical Law Review, Vol 15, pp 426-32
Abstract: Review of Nicolette Priaulx, The Harm Paradox: Tort Law and the Unwanted Child in an Era of Choice

Ken Mason, 'Section 5(1)(b) or Not (2) Be? ', (2007), Scots Law Times, pp 95-99

Ken Mason, 'Ethical Principles and Ethical Practice ', (2006), Clinical Ethics, Vol 1, pp 3-6

Graeme Laurie, Ken Mason, 'Personal Autonomy and the Right to Treatment: A Note on R on the Application of Burke v General Medical Council', (2005), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 9, pp 123-32
Abstract: Our first reading of Burke was in The Times when one’s immediate reaction was to question the precise nature of Munby J’s judgment – were it and its consequences directed to the specific problems of providing and withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) from dying patients or were the judge’s observations and conclusions to be read as being applicable across the whole spectrum of medical care of the terminally ill? Was it indeed the case, unlikely though it seemed, that a right to treatment had been established with scant regard for the attendant resource implications? It was assumed that these questions would be answered when the full transcript was available – and the major aim of this analysis is to discern whether or not this assumption was justified.

Ken Mason, Sheila A. M. Mclean, 'Our Inheritance, Our Future: Their Rights?', (2005), The International Journal of Children's Rights, Vol 13, pp 255-272

Ken Mason, Douglas Brodie, 'Bolam, Bolam - Wherefore Art Thou Bolam? ', (2005), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 9, pp 298-306

Ken Mason, 'What's in a Name?: The Vagaries of Vo v France', (2005), Child and Family Law Quarterly, pp 1797-112

Ken Mason, 'From Dundee to Darlington: An End to the McFarlane Line?', (2004), Juridical Review, pp 365-86

Ken Mason, 'Wrongful Life: The Problem of Causation', (2004), Medical Law International, Vol 6, pp 149-61
Abstract: The paper considers the status of the wrongful life action particularly in the light of the recent acceptance of such actions in continental Europe. It is considered that the hurdle of causation is still not adequately overcome in these cases and, in a search for an answer to the difficulty, the author re-examines the Canadian case of Cherry v Borsman. This case was originally thought of as one of wrongful life associated with a negligently performed abortion and the paper attempts to overcome the problems of causation by comparing and contrasting the roles of the genetic counsellor and the abortionist. While the attempt is by no means wholly successful, it also serves to draw attention to some significant differences between wrongful life actions based on physical and mental disability in the neonate.

Ken Mason, 'Discord and Disposal of Embryos ', (2004), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 8, pp 84-93

Ken Mason, 'Clones and Cell Nuclear Replacements: A Quintavalle Saga', (2003), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 7, pp 379-87

Graeme Laurie, Ken Mason, 'Misfeasance in Public Office: An Emerging Medical Law Tort?', (2003), Medical Law Review, Vol 11, pp 194-207
Abstract: The authors draw on two notable cases, Akenzua v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, and Palmer v Tees Health Authority, to which the outcome has prompted the article discussing misfeasance as an emerging medical law tort. Although similarities exists in both cases, they are quite different, with the former argued on the basis of misfeasance in public office, and the latter on negligence. These are examined in detail, together with their possible impact for an NHS Trust.

Ken Mason, 'Wrongful Pregnancy, Wrongful Birth and Wrongful Terminology ', (2002), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 6, pp 46-66
Abstract: The article analyses the series of cases that have evolved following the House of Lords dicta in McFarlane v Tayside Health Board and which seek to circumvent the limitations imposed by that decision on recovery for the birth of an 'uncovenanted' addition to the family. The majority of relevant actions have relied on the possible distinction of cases involving the birth of a disabled child which McFarlane admits. Claims for compensation for the upkeep of the child in such circumstances have been successful, but the author contends that the two types of action are, in fact, distinct. He concludes that the only true comparator to date is Parkinson v St James and Seacroft University Hospital NHS Trust and that the reasoning in this case may provide an opening for the House of Lords to reconsider its position.

Graeme Laurie, Ken Mason, 'Consent or Property: Dealing with the Body and its Parts in the Shadow of Bristol and Alder Hey', (2001), Modern Law Review, Vol 64, pp 710-729
Abstract: This article first considers the tenuous base on which the law of property in the body is founded, and then discusses the practical results of this in the light of the recent furore surrounding events at Bristol and Alder Hey. The authors suggest that neither the consent-based model followed by the official inquiries into these events nor a possible policy based on a full-blown property model adequately cover the private rights of an individual's next of kin or the right of the public to an efficient and reliable pathological service within the NHS. Rather, they propose that a combined model in which a 'cascade of possession' for the recognition of various property interests is initiated by assent on the part of the next of kin and terminates in full possession of the body vested in the executor for the purposes of its disposal. The authors recommend further that any reform of the law should apply property rights to body parts taken from both the living and the dead.

Ken Mason, 'Conjoined Twins: A Diagnostic Conundrum', (2001), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 5, pp 226-35

Ken Mason, 'Unwanted Pregnancy: A Case of Retroversion?', (2000), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 4, pp 191-206

Ken Mason, 'The Legal Aspects and Implications of Risk Assessment ', (2000), Medical Law Review, Vol 8, pp 69-84
Abstract: The main purposes of this paper are, first, to consider the legal position of the psychiatrist responsible for the assessment of the risks involved in the management of a dangerous person and, second, to consider what is being done to ease the doctor's position and, at the same time, satisfy public concern.

Ken Mason, 'Back Calculation and the Crown Agents' Letters ', (2000), Scottish Law & Practice Quarterly, Vol 5, pp 25-35

Graeme Laurie, Ken Mason, 'Negative Treatment of Vulnerable Patients: Euthanasia by any other Name?', (2000), Juridical Review, pp 159-78
Abstract: In this article the authors follow up their work entitled 'The Management of the Persistent Vegetative State in the British Isles' (1996 J. R. 263) in which they argued that the foundations of a slippery slope in respect of the treatment of patients in PVS had been laid in both Scots and English law. They now trace legal developments since 1996 and consider them in the light of recent guidance from the British Medical Association which purports to extend the application of existing legal precedents beyond those in PVS so as to encompass withdrawal of artificial feeding and hydration from other severely incapacitated patients, such as those suffering from stroke or dementia. Finally, the provisions of the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 are examined to determine to what extent, if any, they erect barriers on the moral and legal slippery slope in respect of negative treatment decisions involving vulnerable patients.

Ken Mason, 'A Lords' Eye View of Fetal Status ', (1999), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 3, pp 246-50

Ken Mason, David W. Meyers, 'Physician Assisted Suicide: A Second View from Mid-Atlantic', (1999), Anglo-American Law Review, Vol 28, pp 265-86

Ken Mason, 'United Kingdom v Europe: Current Attitudes to Transsexualism', (1998), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 2, pp 107-19

Graeme Laurie, Ken Mason, 'The Management of Persistent Vegetative State in the British Isles ', (1996), Juridical Review, pp 263-83

Ken Mason, 'Conversion on the Road to Auchtermuchty ', (1996), Scots Law Times, pp 33-38

Ken Mason, D. Mulligan, 'Euthanasia by Stages ', (1996), Law, Culture and the Humanities, pp 810-12


Graeme Laurie, Ken Mason, 'Waxing and Waning The Shifting Sands of Autonomy on the Medico-Legal Shore' in Catherine Stanton, Sarah Devaney, Anne-Maree Farrell, Alexandra Mullock (ed.) Pioneering Healthcare Law (Taylor & Francis 2015) 19-30

Graeme Laurie, J. Kenyon Mason, 'Trust or contract How far does the contemporary doctor-patient relationship protect and promote autonomy?' in Pamela Ferguson, Graeme Laurie (ed.) Inspiring a Medico-Legal Revolution (Ashgate Publishing 2015) 73-94
Abstract: The law has intervened extensively in the last 30 years in the name of autonomy enhancement and the protection of those with reduced mental capacity. It is, however, far from clear how much this has resulted in a net increase in the substantial trust that patients feel towards healthcare professionals - indeed, the opposite might be true. This chapter considers these developments against the backdrop of Sheila McLean's contributions on the topics of consent and autonomy. It argues that a failure by law and its institutions to grasp the nuances and contours of authentic autonomy has encouraged a pseudo-contractual doctor-patient dynamic in which patient abandonment is legally sanctioned and the spectre of paternalism remains. While recognising that law cannot prescribe trust, it nonetheless suggests ways in which law's future direction of travel could be more conducive to the promotion of a genuine therapeutic partnership.

Ken Mason, 'Particularity in Medical Law ' in Zenon Bankowski, James MacLean (ed.) The Universal and the Particular in Legal Reasoning (Ashgate Publishing 2006) 235-46

Ken Mason, 'Medicine, Doctors and Patients The Changing Face of Society in the Health Care Field' in Human Nature (Royal Society of Edinburgh 2006) 333-47

Ken Mason, 'Unwanted Pregnancy A Case of Retroversion' in Shelia A. M. McLean (ed.) Medical Law and Ethics (Dartmouth Publishing 2002)

Ken Mason, 'Expert Scientific Evidence in Statutory Defences and Special Reasons ' in John Wheatley (ed.) Road Traffic Law in Scotland (LexisNexis UK 2000) 346-66

Ken Mason, 'Wrongful Pregnancy ' in Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia (Butterworths and the Law Society of Scotland 1996) 198-202

Ken Mason, 'Contemporary Issues in Organ Transplantation ' in Sheila A. M. McLean (ed.) Contemporary Issues in Law, Medicine and Ethics (Dartmouth Publishing 1996) 117-41

Ken Mason, 'Death and Dying One Step at a Time?' in Sheila A. M. McLean (ed.) Death, Dying and the Law (Dartmouth Publishing 1996)

Ken Mason, 'Consent to Treatment and Research in the ICU ' in Nicholas A. Page, Sheila A. M. McLean (ed.) Ethics and the Law in Intensive Care (Oxford University Press 1996) 29-46