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Gillick competenceA UK term of art referring to the competence of a child under the age of 16 to consent to his/her own medical care, without the need for parental permission.
The Gillick standard arose from the High Court’s decision in Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority  3 All ER 402 (HL), which is binding in the UK and approved in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. In this landmark case, Mrs Gillick, a mother of 10, took the West Norfolk and Wisbech Health Authority to court for issuing a circular advising doctors on providing contraception to minors (here, under age 16), which the Authority left up to the doctor’s discretion. Mrs Gillick argued that parental rights trumped consent where the child in question was under age 16. The court responded by saying that parental rights do not exist. Gillick competence is of interest to pathologists in the UK as related to the Human Tissue Act 2004.