Charles Foster is a Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford.
His books cover many fields. They include books on travel, evolutionary biology, natural history, anthropology, theology, archaeology, philosophy and law. Ultimately they are all attempts to answer the questions ‘Who or what are we?’, and ‘what on earth are we doing here?
His latest non-academic book is ‘Being a Beast’, which is published in the UK by Profile Books and in the US by Metropolitan Books. It is a New York Times Bestseller, was long-listed for the Baillie Gifford Prize and the Wainwright Prize, and is the subject of a forthcoming feature film made by Sovereign Films. Foster won an IgNobel Prize for Biology for the work in the book.
His writing has appeared in many publications including the Guardian, the Spectator, National Geographic, BBC Wildlife magazine, Time Out, the Daily Telegraph, the Independent, the Oldie and the Literary Review. A full list of publications is on this website.
His current academic interests relate mainly to the relevance of identity and personhood in decision-making, and to whether the notion of dignity can do any real work at the philosophical coal-face.
He read veterinary medicine and law at Cambridge, and is a qualified veterinary surgeon. He holds a PhD in law/bioethics from the University of Cambridge.
He teaches Medical Law and Ethics at the University of Oxford, and is a member of the Law Faculty there. He is a Senior Research Associate at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and a Research Associate at the Ethox Centre and the HeLEX Centre, all at the University of Oxford. He retains an active interest in veterinary medicine – particularly veterinary acupuncture and general wildlife and large animal medicine.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Fellow of the Linnean Society.
He is married, with six children, and lives in Oxford.
He is represented by Jessica Woollard at David Higham Associates, 7th Floor, Waverley House, 7-12 Noel Street, London W1F 8GQ.
As a barrister Foster has been involved in many important medical law cases. He was the Chambers and Partners Professional Discipline Junior of the Year in 2011.
Recent cases include:
R v Dhanuson Dharmasena: 2015
The first ever prosecution under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.
Dr. Dharmasena was a junior doctor who attended a Somali woman in labour. The woman had been infibulated as a child, and had subsequently been deinfibulated. The doctor made an incision through scar tissue in order to catheterise the urethra prior to effecting instrumental delivery. He then inserted a suture to stop bleeding from the wound. The prosecution said that this constituted FGM. The trial was contested for two and a half weeks before Sweeney J at Southwark Crown Court. The jury quickly acquitted.
CP v The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
Acted for the Pro-Life Research Unit, intervening. The claimant, a child with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, seeks compensation from the Authority in respect of injuries said to be caused by the mother drinking during pregnancy. The claim raised fundamental questions as to whether a child in utero is a legal personality who can be the victim of a crime.
Kadir v Mistry  EWCA (Civ)
Now a leading authority on the principles governing the recoverability of damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity in cases of delayed diagnosis.
The Nicklinson and ‘Martin’ litigation: 2012-2014
Attempt in Nicklinson to introduce voluntary euthanasia by (a) making necessity a defence in some circumstances to murder, by common law evolution; and (b) to say that Article 8 of the ECHR compels this result.
Attempt in ‘Martin’ to extend Purdy: an assertion that Article 8 of the ECHR compels the DPP to promulgate for (eg) doctors, the criteria used in deciding whether or not to prosecute for assisting suicide, and compels the GMC and the SRA to indicate similarly what criteria would be used to decide whether or not to institute regulatory proceedings for assisting suicide. Supreme Court.
R (on the application of Purdy) v DPP
Attempt to force the DPP to promulgate a poli
R (on the application of Purdy) v DPP
Attempt to force the DPP to promulgate a policy indicating the criteria used in deciding whether or not to prosecute for assisting suicide. House of Lords
Claire Louise Jones v Conwy and Denbighshire NHS Trust(2009) LS Law Medical 195
Liability of an NHS Trust for epilepsy caused by an intra-cranial accumulation of pus
NHS Trust A v MB (a child) and Mr and Mrs. B.  2 FLR 319;  Lloyd’s Rep Med 323
Attempt by NHS Trust to withdraw life-sustaining artificial ventilation from a child.
Al Hamwi v Johnston and North West London Hospitals NHS Trust  Lloyd’s Rep Med 309
Extent of clinician’s obligation to ensure that patient had understood warning about risks of amniocentesis.
Steel v Joy: Halsey v Milton Keynes NHS Trust:  1 WLR 3002; The Times, 27 May 2004: The Independent, 21 May 2004
Effect on costs of a refusal to mediate. Meaning of “concurrent tortfeasors.”
Kataria v Essex Strategic Health Authority,  3 All ER 522,  Lloyd’s Rep. Med: 215; The Times, 16 April 2004
Meaning of “review”: jurisdiction of Family Health Services Appeal Authority.
R v Chief Constable of West Mercia ex p Jepson  EWHC 3148
Judicial review of police decision not to prosecute for late abortion of a child with cleft lip/palate. Rights of the fetus under ECHR Articles 2, 3, 6 and 8. Compatibility of those Articles with UK law of abortion.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust v As, Bs and others,  Lloyd’s Rep: Med. 151: The Times, 26 February 2003;  1 F.C.R. 599; (2003) 100(17) L.S.G. 28; (2003), 153 N.L.J. 351; (2003) 100(17) L.S.G. 28; Independent, 5 March 2003
Black twins born to white mother as a result of an IVF mix up. Issue of legal fatherhood. Construction of s. 28 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 and compatibility of that section with the ECHR: 2003.
Hanson v Airedale Hospital NHS Trust, Clinical Risk (2003) 9, 169
Failure to institute cardiac monitoring in a patient presenting at an Accident and Emergency Department with central chest pain. Consequent hypoxic brain damage. Application of Bolitho principle: defendant’s position not logically sustainable. Causation: issue of lost chance.
Calver v Westwood Veterinary Group,  Lloyd’s Rep. Med. 20;  Lloyd’s Rep. PN 102; (2000) 58 BMLR 194;  P.I.Q.R. P11
Failure to prescribe prophylactic antibiotics after abortion in a thoroughbred mare. Application of Bolam test.
Inquiry into the care and treatment of Christopher Edwards and Richard Linford
In re D (Mental patient: Habeas corpus),  1 FCR 218,  Fam Law 805,  2 FLR 848, The Times, 19 May 2000
Definition of “nearest relative” in section 26 of the Mental Health Act 1983. Whether an approved social worker has a duty of reasonable enquiry in deciding who the “nearest relative” is when applying for a person to be compulsorily admitted to hospital.
Briggs v Pitt-Payne & Lias  Lloyd’s LR: Medical 1: (1999) 46 BMLR 132
Definition of “significant injury” and “attributable” in issues of limitation where negligent misprescription of drugs is alleged.
Drake v Pontefract HA  Lloyd’s LR: Medical 425
Psychiatric team’s liability for failure to control depression and prevent suicide attempt.
Reed v Sunderland HA, The Times, 16 October 1998
Discounting for future contingencies. The status of the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines.
Fallows v Randle  8 Med LR 160
Laparoscopic sterilisation. Fallope ring found later to be in incorrect position. Application of maxim res ipsa loquitur.
Bancroft v Harrogate Health Authority  8 Med LR 398
Whether failure to perform a total (cp sub-total) hysterectomy after finding of certain histological changes in cervix was negligent.
Hind v York Health Authority  8 Med LR 377,  PIQR P235
Damage to anal sphincter. Immediate knowledge of faecal incontinence. When the Claimant acquired date of knowledge for purposes of limitation.
Ogden v Airedale Health Authority  7 Med LR 153
Liability of health authority to radiographer for occupational asthma caused by inhalation of x-ray developing chemicals.
Kahl v Freistaat Bayern  PIQR P401
Abuse of process. Two actions arising from the same cause of action. Recoverability by a foreign state of sums paid under its own domestic legislation in respect of the financial consequences of a tort in England.
Reed v Doncaster MBC  11 CL 560
Liability of local authorities for the acts of third parties.
Giles v Pontefract Health Authority (1993) Kemp H2-014
Assessment of future loss of earnings when the Claimant is a young child. Smith v Manchester or multiplier-multiplicand basis?
Hillsborough Disaster Inquest