HM Insights

New organ donation laws in Scotland

From 26 March 2021, the law on organ and tissue donation is changing in Scotland to an "opt out" system.

The Law

New legislation provides for a system of deemed authorisation, for organ and tissue donation, for transplantation purposes. The legislation can be found in The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Act 2019 and is more commonly known as an "opt out" system.

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Who will be affected?

The new system applies to all adults aged 16 years and over, however, there are certain groups that the law will not apply to. The groups excluded from the new system are:

  • Children under the age of 16;
  • Adults who lack the capacity to understand the new law; and
  • Adults who have lived in Scotland for less than 12 months before their death.

What do you need to do to make your wishes known?

For those who have not thought about it before, it is now really important to consider your own wishes with regard to organ donation.

The default position will be to assume that an individual is agreeable to donating their organs and tissue. However, donation is a personal decision and you are able to opt out of donation by recording your decision on the NHS Organ Donation Register.

Your family or friends will be asked for your views to ensure you do not donate if you wouldn't have wanted to and therefore to ensure your wishes are known, you should record your decision on the Register and advise family and friends of your views.

Should I update my Will to reflect my wishes regarding organ donation?

Organ donation is time sensitive so you shouldn't need to update your Will to reflect your wishes on donation. It's best to update the Organ Donation Register and share your views as much as possible with family and friends.

Further information on the new law can be found at Organ Donation Scotland

Get in touch

If you'd like to discuss the new legislation on organ donation or any other personal legal matter please get in touch with our Private Client team.

Useful links

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