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Legal Control of Burial Rights

Remigius Nnamdi Nwabueze

Keywords: Funerals; Burial Wishes; Burial Direction; Enforcement of Burial Directions

This article argues that the common law rule in Williams v Williams, regarding the non-enforcement of burial wishes, is not only unjustifiable, but is also based on shaky jurisprudence and ignores some fundamental human rights issues. Accordingly, the author suggests that a person's burial wishes should be recognised and enforced by law. Where the deceased left no burial directions, it is suggested that the law should empower the surviving spouse or civil partner to determine the time, place and manner of burial. Apart from the value (for instance, identity) inherent in the legal recognition and enforcement of a person's burial wishes, the foregoing suggestions provide a decisive framework for adjudicating intra-familial burial disputes.

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