CYIL vol. 11 (2020)


CYIL 11 (2020)


Abstract: This paper focuses on the topic of a human body, its parts, and its products from a legal perspective. Given that there is no unified, universally applicable approach, the paper explains the two main feasible methods for protection of these valuable assets, either by means of personality rights or via property rights. An important remark is that the choice of one or another approach does not preclude the safeguarding of human dignity by suitable legal measures. It is also necessary to distinguish the issue of status of such assets from the question of allocation of relevant rights. The paper offers a basic classification of body parts and products, mentioning specifically also artificial parts. It then presents the approach of Czech law to this topic, and places it within the context of a continuing international legal debate. Resumé: Článek se soustředí na problematiku lidského těla, jeho částí a jeho produktů, jak na ně nahlíží právo. Vzhledem k tomu, že neexistuje žádný jednotný, univerzálně apliko- vatelný pohled, objasňuje nejprve dva základní možné přístupy k ochraně těchto cenných statků, a to skrze osobnostní právo a skrze vlastnické právo. Důležitou poznámkou je, že volba jednoho či druhého přístupu nebrání ochraně lidské důstojnosti vhodnými právními nástroji. Je také zapotřebí rozlišovat otázku právního statusu takových statků a alokace práv k nim. Článek dále nabízí základní třídění částí a produktů lidského těla, přičemž se spe- cificky zabývá i umělými částmi. Posléze představuje přístup českého právního řádu k této problematice a zasazuje jej do kontextu pokračujícího mezinárodního právního diskursu. Key words: human body, body parts, body products, personality rights, property rights About the Author: JUDr. Tomáš Holčapek, Ph.D. is a member of the Department of Civil Law and of the Centre for Medical Law at the Law Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. He teaches civil procedure and health law. Introduction What is the relation of a human body to ‘person’, ‘personality’ or ‘human being’? There is hardly any single correct answer, and even the approach how to treat such question is much dependent on societal, cultural, philosophical and religious contexts and views. But from the perspective of contemporaneous, ‘Western world’ law, rooted in both civil law and common law traditions, we can argue that human body is often seen as an embodiment of the personality, as something which is inseparably fused with the mind and with the essentials of what it means to be a human being. It may be called “the point of integration between a person’s subjectivity and the remainder of the objective world” . 2 We are our bodies and our bodies are us. At the same time, it is necessarily a rough simplification, made perhaps for lack of a better description. After all, even with all current scientific knowledge, we still do not 1 This article was written with support of the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic in the project Právní nástroje podpory inovací v medicíně [ Legal Tools in Support of Innovations in Medicine ], project id. no. TL03000688 . 2 Cf. HERRING, Jonathan, WALL, Jesse. The Nature and Significance of the Right to Bodily Integrity. Cambridge Law Journal . (2017, Vol. 76, No. 3), p. 576.


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