Dr Sarah Christie
Title: Dr
First Name: Sarah
Surname: Christie
Position: Academic Strategic Lead
Telephone: +44 (0)1224 263424
ORCID: ORCID Icon /link/orcid-sarah-christie

Duties and Responsibilities

Dr Sarah Christie is an Academic Strategic Lead in The Law School, and is responsible for all aspects of research and research students. She lectures in Medical Law, Medical Ethics & the Law and Criminal Law.

Areas of Expertise

  • Criminal law (Scots & comparative)
  • Medical law
  • Ethics in healthcare

Research Interests

Dr Christie's current research interests are in criminal liability and responsibility, with reference to both Scots criminal law, and comparative jurisdictions (Anglo-American, commonwealth jurisprudence); medical law, particularly issues focusing on the beginning and end of life (pre-natal treatment, abortion and birth, end-of-life decision making, advance care planning); the interface between medical law and criminal liability (assisted suicide, foetal neglect).
She is also part of a team which has been awarded a grant by the NHS Endowment Fund to study bereaved relatives' experiences of post mortem practice. 

PhD Supervision
She is interested in supervising on all areas within her research interests, but particularly interested in applications in the following topic areas: 

  • The legal regulation of assisted suicide

The evidence suggests that there are significant numbers of people who would wish to draw their own lives to an end because of the level of suffering, but cannot do so without the assistance of another. In the absence of legislation, this remains unlawful for those who provide that assistance. Unsuccessful attempts have been made across UK jurisdictions to introduce legislation to allow for assisted suicide under strict controls. There is therefore considerable scope for study of the justification for assisted suicide, and whether there are other/better ways of approaching legalising this activity, potentially on a comparative basis, which could be put forward as proposals for reform. 

  • Autonomy and capacity in decision-making

Individual autonomy is regularly touted as the cornerstone of decision-making in modern medicine and this places significant emphasis on the assessment of that individual’s mental capacity. However, there are many situations where capacity can be called into question, and further questions about the status and use of documents designed to extend individual decision-making after a loss of capacity. This leaves issues such as the nature and scope of the best interests test, the pregnant woman’s autonomy vis-à-vis her foetus, and the legal status and implementation of Advance Decisions refusing treatment as areas deserving of further scrutiny and study. 

  • Responsibility for action in criminal law

Responsibility is a key concept in criminal law, establishing the foundational basis for the attribution of criminal liability. Age, particularly at the lower end when considering children and crime, has recently come onto the Scottish Parliament’s agenda for reform. Where case law tests these issues, there is also scope for study of the proper boundaries of exceptions to liability based on concepts including provocation, mental disorder, automatism, and somnambulism. Such studies can also develop into interdisciplinary areas by encompassing moral and/or neuroscientific elements of the understanding of “responsibility”. 

  • Corporate offending and the adequacy of sanctions

The issue of the identification of the relevant wrongdoer, and how liability can be attributed to that wrongdoer is vital in criminal law and considerable work has been done over time to develop concepts of corporate responsibility for crime which allow for a corporate wrongdoer to be held accountable. however, the issue of the appropriate mechanism for applying a level of sanction which is meaningful to that wrongdoer remains difficult, and in some jurisdictions, largely unresolved. As a result there is scope for comparative study of this issue incorporating these jurisdictions alongside those where there have been problems holding corporations to account for criminal actions. 

Dr Christie is currently principal supervisor for the following doctoral research students – Chukwuemeka Chuks-Ezike, Kelechi Eze

External / Professional Roles

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of NHS Grampian Clinical Ethics Committee.
  • Member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association



Inchoate Crimes: Incitement, Conspiracy and Attempts in Scottish Criminal Law, Edinburgh, W. Green, Greens Practice Library Series, 2001 (sole authored book).

Introduction to Scots Criminal Law, 2nd edn., Dundee University Press, 2009.

Introduction to Scots Criminal Law, Longman, Pearson Education, 2003. 

Book Chapters

"Medical Law and the Individual” in Volume 13 – The Law, Scottish Life and Society: A compendium of Scottish Ethnology, Edinburgh, John Donald / The European Ethnological Research Centre, 2012.

Refereed Articles

“Effective End-of-Life Care Planning in Scotland: Culture and Law” 2017 (1), vol. 5, Journal of Medical Law and Ethics 1.

Stephen, A., Sheach-Leith, V., MacDuff, C., and Christie, S. , “Bereaved relatives’ experiences in relation to post mortem: a qualitative exploration in North East Scotland” 34:3 (2015) Bereavement Care 103 

 “Making treatment Decisions for the Future: Advance Directives and the Question of Legislative Clarity?” 2013 (1) Journal of Medical Law and Ethics 85 (with M. Anderson)

"The Relevance of Harm as the Criterion for the Punishment of Impossible Attempts" 2009 Journal of Criminal Law 153.

"Crimes against the foetus: the rights and wrongs of protecting the unborn" 2006 Medico-Legal Journal of Ireland 65.

"Assisted Suicide: a patient's right or ‘a legally questionable medical hypocrisy'?" 2002 Scottish Law and Practice Quarterly 261 (with Linda Taylor, then of Robert Gordon University).

"Unconscious Acts, Guilty Minds? Placing Limits on the Defence of Somnambulism" 2001 Juridical Review 147.

"The Advocate's Immunity: walking the public policy tightrope" 2001 (1) Scottish Law and Practice Quarterly 45.

"Provocation - Pushing the Reasonable Man Too Far?" 2000 (4) Journal of Criminal Law 409.

"Prosecutorial precision and the European Convention on Human Rights" 2000 (2) Scottish Law and Practice Quarterly 111.

"The relevance of the acquittal of a socius criminis" 2000 (6) Juridical Review 391.

"Incitement, mens rea and pretence" 1999 (4) Scottish Law and Practice Quarterly 293.

"Provocation and Non-Violent Homosexual Advances" 1999 (6) Journal of Criminal Law 586.

Professional articles

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill – strong on rhetoric but weak on substance?” 2011 Scots Law Times 185.

“Clandestine injury and distress de recenti” 2005 (4) Scottish Law Gazette 118.

“Drugs – Container cases” 2005 (3) Scottish Law Gazette 95.

“When is a hunt not a hunt?” 2005 (1) Scottish Law Gazette 21.

“Mandatory Life Sentences and Convention Compliance” 2004 (6) Scottish Law Gazette 165.

“The Anti-Social Behaviour (Scotland) Act 2004” 2004 (5) Scottish Law Gazette 137.

“Sentencing and the guilty plea: an ‘instinctive synthesis’? 2004 (4) Scottish Law Gazette 101.

“Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2004” 2004 (3) Scottish Law Gazette 75.

“Breach of the peace – again” 2004 (3) Scottish Law Gazette 73.

“Accidental fire-raising” 2004 (2) Scottish Law Gazette 44.

“Distinctions in Concert” 2004 (1) Scottish Law Gazette 17.

“The Draft Criminal Code for Scotland” 2003 (6) Scottish Law Gazette 181.

“Shameless Indecency” 2003 (5) Scottish Law Gazette 153.

“Review of Life Sentences” 2003 (4) Scottish Law Gazette 116.

“Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003” 2003 (3) Scottish Law Gazette 86.

“Insanity and Diminished Responsibility” 2003 (2) Scottish Law Gazette 38.

The Sexual Offences (Procedure and Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2002” 2002 (6) Scottish Law Gazette 177.

“Culpable and Reckless Conduct” 2002 (5) Scottish Law Gazette 144.

“Conspiracy and Entrapment” 2002 (4) Scottish Law Gazette 109.

“The High Court clarifies the law on rape” 2002 (3) Scottish Law Gazette 76.

“Breach of Professional Obligations - contempt of court or bad case management?” 2002 (2) Scottish Law Gazette 45.

“The International Criminal Court” 2002 (1) Scottish Law Gazette 11.

“Breach of the Peace” 2001 (6) Scottish Law Gazette 197.

“The future of diminished responsibility” 2001 (5) Scottish Law Gazette 149.

“The limits of the defence of coercion” 2001 (4) Scottish Law Gazette 119.

“Trident and the Place of Customary International Law in Scottish Criminal Trials” 2001 (3) Scottish Law Gazette 78.

“Reasonable and unreasonable delays” 2001 (2) Scottish Law Gazette 55.

“Due Diligence and Licensing Offences” 2001 (1) Scottish Law Gazette 22.

“Drug Confiscation Orders and Human Rights” 2000 (6) Scottish Law Gazette 206.

“The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission - Production of Documents and Material” 2000 (5) Scottish Law Gazette 168.

“Non-insane automatism and sleepwalking” 2000 (3) Scottish Law Gazette 93.

“Conspiracies - the extra-territorial dimension” 2000 (2) Scottish Law Gazette 53.

“The European Convention on Human Rights and Scots Criminal Law” 2000 (1) Scottish Law Gazette 19.

“Crime and Disorder Act 1998” 1999 (5) Scottish Law Gazette 201.

“Offensive weapons” 1999 (4) Scottish Law Gazette 169.

“Blocking Blackmail Relief” 1998 (December) Taxation Practitioner 14 (with Professor D. Stopforth, University of Stirling).

“Criminal Payments” 1998 (November) Taxation Practitioner 10 (with Professor D. Stopforth, University of Stirling).

“Cheating by Omission” Vol. 141, No. 3660 Taxation 281.

“Impossible Attempts - Settled at Last” 1997 Journal of the Law Society of Scotland 157.

“Recent Trends in Breach of the Peace” 1997 Scots Law Times 292.