Professor (Emeritus) of Forensic Medicine

View my full research profile


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.


Graeme Laurie, J. Kenyon Mason Law and Medical Ethics 9th ed (OUP, 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. The ninth edition 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 health care.

Graeme Laurie, J. Kenyon Mason Law and Medical Ethics, 8th ed. (Oxford University Press, 2010)

J. Kenyon Mason The Troubled Pregnancy: Legal Wrongs and Rights in Reproduction (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
Abstract: This book looks at the legal response to those aspects of the troubled pregnancy which require or involve medico-legal intervention. The unwanted pregnancy is considered particularly in the light of the Abortion Act 1967, s.1(1)(d) and the related action for so-called wrongful birth due to faulty ante-natal care. The unexpected or uncovenanted birth of a healthy child resulting from failed sterilisation is approached through an analysis of the seminal case of McFarlane and associated cases involving disability in either the neonate or the mother. The disabled neonate's right to sue for its diminished life is discussed and the legal approach to the management of severe congenital disease is analysed - thus following Baroness Hale in believing that care of the newborn is an integral part of pregnancy. Aspects are considered from historical and comparative perspectives, including coverage of experience in the USA, the Commonwealth and Europe.

Graeme Laurie, J. Kenyon 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.

J. Kenyon Mason, Sheila McLean Legal and Ethical Aspects of Healthcare (Greenwich Medical Media, 2003)
Abstract: There can be few aspects of life which have not altered so dramatically in the past few decades as the relationship between medicine and the law: as each advance in medicine is made, and treatments become more and more sophisticated, the legal and moral issues surrounding such treatments have also multiplied, and become more complex. Written by a doctor and a lawyer, both with many years of practical experience, this book provides a unique and in-depth coverage of the most important ethical and moral issues (and their legal implications) facing healthcare professionals, lawyers and the general public alike. It represents a useful outline of where medicine and the law stand at present and hints at where they will be going in relation to each other in the coming years.

J. Kenyon 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.

J. Kenyon 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.

J. Kenyon Mason, D.J. 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.

J. Kenyon 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.

J. Kenyon Mason, Alexander McCall Smith Medico-legal Encyclopaedia (Butterworth Heinemann, 1987)

J. Kenyon Mason Aviation accident pathology: A study of fatalities (Butterworths, 1962)

Edited Books

Graeme Laurie, Alexander McCall Smith, J. Kenyon Mason Law and Medical Ethics (Butterworths, 2002)
Abstract: Sixth Edition of leading medical law textbook

J. Kenyon Mason, Basil N. Purdue The Pathology of Trauma (Arnold, 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.

J. Kenyon Mason Paediatric Forensic Medicine and Pathology (Hodder Arnold, 1998)
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.

Journal Articles

J. Kenyon Mason 'Autonomous humanity? In tribute to Margaret Brazier' (2012) Medical Law Review 201-7

J. Kenyon Mason 'Unalike as Two Peas? R (on the application of Purdy) v DPP' (2009) Edinburgh Law Review 13 298-302

J. Kenyon Mason, S A M McLean, C Connelly 'Purdy in Scotland: We hear, but should we listen?' (2009) Juridical Review 265-284

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

J. Kenyon Mason 'Ethical principles and ethical practice' (2006) Clinical Ethics vol 1 pp 3 - 6

J. Kenyon Mason, McLean, S A M 'Our Inheritance, Our Future: Their Rights?' (2005) International Journal of Children's Rights 255-272 13

J. Kenyon Mason, Douglas Brodie 'Bolam, Bolam - wherefore art thou Bolam?' (2005) Edinburgh Law Review 9 298 - 306

J. Kenyon Mason 'What's in a name?: The vagaries of Vo v France' (2005) Child and Family Law Quarterly 1797-112

J. Kenyon Mason, Graeme Laurie 'Personal Autonomy and the Right to Treatment: A Note on R on the Application of Burke v General Medical Council' (2005) Edinburgh Law Review 9 123-32

J. Kenyon Mason 'From Dundee to Darlington: An End to the McFarlane Line?' (2004) Juridical Review 365-386

J. Kenyon Mason 'Wrongful life: The problem of causation' (2004) Medical Law International vol6 pp149-161

J. Kenyon Mason 'Discord and Disposal of Embryos' (2004) Edinburgh Law Review Vol 8 pp 84-93

J. Kenyon Mason, Graeme Laurie 'Misfeasance in Public Office: An Emerging Medical Law Tort?' (2003) Medical Law Review 11 194

J. Kenyon Mason 'Clones and Cell Nuclear Replacements: A Quintavalle Saga' (2003) Edinburgh Law Review 7 379-387

J. Kenyon Mason 'Wrongful pregnancy, wrongful birth and wrongful terminology' (2002) Edinburgh Law Review vol 6(1) pp 46-66

J. Kenyon Mason 'Conjoined Twins, A Diagnostic Conundrum' (2001) Edinburgh Law Review vol5 pp 226-235

J. Kenyon Mason, Graeme Laurie 'Consent or Property: Dealing with the Body and its Parts in the Shadow of Bristol and Alder Hey' (2001) Modern Law Review 64 710-79

J. Kenyon Mason 'The Legal Aspects and Implications of Risk Assessment' (2000) Medical Law Review 8(1) 69-84

J. Kenyon Mason 'Unwanted Pregnancy: A Case of Retroversion?' (2000) Edinburgh Law Review Vol4 Issue 2 (May)pp191- 206

J. Kenyon Mason 'Back Calculation and the Crown Agents' Letters' (2000) Scottish Law & Practice Quarterly pp25-35

Graeme Laurie, J. Kenyon Mason 'Negative Treatment of Vulnerable Patients: Euthanasia by any other Name?' (2000) Juridical Review 159-78

J. Kenyon Mason, D W Meyers 'Physician Assisted Suicide: A Second View from Mid-Atlantic' (1999) Anglo-American Law Review Vol28 pp265 - 286

J. Kenyon Mason 'United Kingdom v Europe: Current Attitudes to Transsexualism' (1998) Edinburgh Law Review Vol2 pp107-119

J. Kenyon Mason, D. Mulligan 'Euthanasia by Stages' (1996) Law, Culture and the Humanities Vol347 pp810 - 812

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


Graeme Laurie, J. Kenyon Mason 'Trust or Contract: How Far Does the Contemporary Doctor-patient Relationship Protect and Promote Autonomy?' in Graeme Laurie, Pamela Ferguson (eds) Inspiring a Medico-Legal Revolution: Essays in Honour of Sheila McLean (Ashgate Publishing Limited, 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.

J. Kenyon Mason 'The Reproductive Torts' in Simon Hetherington (eds) Halsbury's Laws of England: Centenary Essays 2007 (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2007) 127-146

J. Kenyon Mason 'Particularity in Medical Law' in Zenon Bankowski, James MacLean (eds) The Universal and the Particular in Legal Reasoning (Ashgate, 2006) 235-246

J. Kenyon Mason 'Medicine, Doctors and Patients:the Changing Face of Society in the Health Care Field' in (eds) Human Nature (Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2006) 333 - 347

J. Kenyon Mason 'Unwanted Pregnancy: A Case of Retroversion ?' in S McLean (eds) Medical Law and Ethics (Ashgate Publications, 2002)

J. Kenyon Mason 'Expert scientific evidence in statutory defences and special reasons' in J. Wheatley (eds) Road Traffic Law in Scotland (Butterworths, 2000) 346-366

J. Kenyon Mason 'Wrongful pregnancy' in (eds) Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia (Butterworths and the Law Society of Scotland, 1996) 198-202

J. Kenyon Mason 'Death and Dying: One Step at a Time ?' in Sheila A.M. McLean (eds) Death, Dying and the Law (Dartmouth, 1996)

J. Kenyon Mason 'Contemporary Issues in Organ Transplantation' in Sheila A. M. McLean (eds) Contemporary Issues in Law, Medicine and Ethics (Aldershot, Dartmouth, 1996) pp.117-141

J. Kenyon Mason 'Consent to Treatment and Research in the ICU' in N. Pace, Sheila A.M. McLean (eds) Ethics and the Law in Intensive Care (Oxford University Press, 1996) pp.29-46

Notes and Reviews

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

J. Kenyon Mason 'A Lords' Eye View of Fetal Status' (1999) Edinburgh Law Review Vol3 pp246 - 250

J. Kenyon Mason 'Conversion on the Road to Auchtermuchty' (1996) Scots Law Times pp33-38

Papers and Presentations

J. Kenyon Mason 'Dying of Cancer - the Legal an Ethical Issues' presented at Head and Neck Cancer - Death, Dying and Bereavement, Bolton, 2002

J. Kenyon Mason 'Disposal of human organs and tissues - a property model' presented at Review Group on Retention of Organs at Post-mortem, Scottish Executive, 2001

J. Kenyon Mason 'Burke and Hare Resurrected' presented at Scottish Medico-legal Society, Edinburgh, 2000

J. Kenyon Mason 'Medicine, Doctors and Patients - The Changing Face of Society in the Health Care Field' presented at Human Nature International Conference, RSE, 2000