The legal determinants of health (in)justice

John Coggon, Beth Kamunge-Kpodo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The mutual influences of social epidemiology and ideas of justice, each on the other, have been seminal in the development of public health ethics and law over the past two decades, and to the prominence that these fields give to health inequalities and the social—including commercial, political, and legal—determinants of health. General and political recognition of injustices in systematised health inequalities have further increased given the crushingly unequal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic; including impacts of the legal and policy responses to it. However, despite apparent attention from successive UK governments to injustices concerning avoidable inequalities in health opportunities and outcomes, significant challenges impede the creation of health laws and policy that are both effective and ethically rigorous. This article critically explores these points. It addresses deficiencies in a UK health law landscape where health care contexts and medico-ethical assumptions predominate, to the great exclusion of broader social and governmental influences on health. The article explains how a public health framing better serves analysis, and engages with a framework of justice-oriented questions that must be asked if we are to understand the proper place and roles of law and regulation for the public’s health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-723
JournalMedical Law Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2022


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