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Professor Penney Lewis

Professor Penney Lewis, The Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London.Contact details


Room: SW3.17






Penney Lewis joined the Dickson Poon School of Law and Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King's in 1995. She became Reader in Law in 2005, and Professor of Law in 2007. She received an SB in Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a JD from the University of Toronto. Following a judicial clerkship at the Supreme Court of Canada, she gained an MA in Medical Ethics and Law from King’s College London and an LLM from Columbia University. She is a member of the UK Donation Ethics Committee, Vice-Chair of the King’s College London Research Ethics Committee and a member of the St. Christopher’s Hospice Clinical Ethics Committee. She is a member of a small expert group drafting recommendations on the ethical, legal and psychosocial aspects of organ donation after circulatory death (DCD) as part of a joint effort of the European Society of Organ Transplantation and a group of European Competent Authorities including NHS Blood and Transplant preparing European guidance on DCD. She is also an invited member of the Working Group on Deceased Donation of the European Platform on Ethical, Legal and Psychosocial Aspects of Organ Transplantation (ELPAT). She is also qualified as a Barrister and Solicitor in Ontario, Canada.

Professor Lewis administers and writes for the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics blog which contains news and comment on topics in Medical Ethics and Medical Law and details of upcoming opportunities, events, television, film and radio.

Research interests and PhD supervision

Professor Lewis’ research covers two separate subject areas. In the area of criminal evidence and procedure, she has written extensively on prosecutions for childhood sexual abuse which take place many years after the alleged events, and in 2006 published a monograph on this topic entitled Delayed Prosecution for Childhood Sexual Abuse, which is part of the Oxford University Press series Oxford Monographs on Criminal Law and Justice.

In the medical law area, her research focuses on end of life issues. She is the author of a number of articles on assisted dying (euthanasia and assisted suicide) and her monograph entitled Assisted Dying and Legal Change was published in 2007 by Oxford University Press. She has also published articles and chapters dealing with a wide range of medical law topics, including wrongful life, advance decision-making, refusal of treatment, medical treatment of children and medical procedures which are against the interests of incompetent adults, such as non-therapeutic research.

In May 2011, Professor Lewis gave evidence to the Commission on Assisted Dying.  In 2010, Professor Lewis testified before the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill Committee of the Scottish Parliament, and provided a commissioned briefing paper for the Committee. In 2005, Professor Lewis testified before the House of Lords Select Committee on the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill (alongside Professors Jonathan Glover and Irene Higginson). In 2002, she was also invited to submit written evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee as part of their enquiry into The Conduct of Investigations into Past Cases of Abuse in Children’s Homes.

Professor Lewis' work on delayed prosecutions for childhood sexual abuse has been particularly influential in Australia. Both the Attorney General of New South Wales and the Tasmania Law Reform Institute have adopted her recommendations in recent reports. 

Professor Lewis has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of London School of Advanced Study, the Fondation Brocher in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London, and has received support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. She is currently a collaborator on, and member of, the Project Advisory Group of the MOREcare project (Methods Of Researching End of Life and Palliative Care) funded by the Medical Research Council and headed by Professor Irene Higginson, Head of the Department of Palliative Care.

PhD students & topics

Selected publications


Articles in the field of Medical Law

 Articles in the field of Criminal Evidence

  • ‘Considerations for Experts in Assessing the Credibility of Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse’, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Vol. 12, 2006, pp.419-441 (co-authored with Laurence Alison and Mark Kebbell)
  •  ‘A Comparative Examination of Corroboration and Caution Warnings in Prosecutions of Sexual Offences’, Criminal Law Review, Oct. 2006, pp.889-900
  •  Too late to try’, New Law Journal, Vol. 156, 2006, pp.1458-1459

Book chapters

  •  ‘The Limits of Autonomy: Law at the End of Life in England and Wales’ in Self-Determination, Dignity and End-of-Life Care. Regulating Advance Directives in International and Comparative Perspective, Stefania Negri, ed., Brill, 2012, pp.221-248
  •  ‘Law at the end of life in England and Wales’ in John Griffiths, Heleen Weyers & Maurice Adams, Euthanasia and Law in Europe: With Special Reference to the Netherlands and Belgium, Hart Publishing, 2008, pp.349-370


View full list of Professor Lewis’ publications.


Professor Lewis was nominated by her students for a College Teaching Excellence Award in 2003-4, 2004-5 and 2006-7. She received this award in 2003-4 and 2006-7.  

Professor Lewis was awarded ‘Half Laurels’ by the Students’ Union in 2008 in ‘recognition of contribution to the College community to an extraordinary level’.

In 2012, the King's Students' Union awarded Professor Lewis a President's Wreath ‘in recognition of an extraordinary contribution to the King’s College London community and for improving the student experience’. She was nominated for this award by the students on the MA in Medical Ethics and Law who wrote that: ‘Penney was an outstanding course director for the Medical Ethics and Law MA course. She is incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about her subject and has been a constant guide for the students on the course. She is very organised, and extremely approachable. Her efforts this year have been outstanding; a great reflection of King’s and its community, and she has certainly been most committed to improving the student experience.’


  •  Medical Law


  •  Law at the End of Life
  •  Medical Law 1 (Consent, Refusal and Request)
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