Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Act 2019 – update

Legislation to introduce an opt-out system passed by parliament.

Legislation to introduce an opt-out system of organ and tissue donation for deceased donors was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2019.

Since then, the Scottish Government has been working with stakeholders to ensure that systems and training is in place ahead of the planned move to an opt-out system from Autumn 2020.

At the current time, the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland continue to prioritise the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking into consideration the significant time and training required across the NHS to ensure the legislation is implemented successfully and delivers on its stated aims, the Scottish Government has taken the decision that the implementation of the Act will be rescheduled.

This means that the law around organ and tissue donation will now come into force in March 2021.


The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 8 June 2018 and amends the existing Scottish legislation that supports donation by introducing a new, additional form of authorisation called ‘deemed authorisation’. This means that donation may proceed where a person was not known to have any objection to donation.

Under the system there will be protections for adults without capacity to understand deemed authorisation, adults resident in Scotland for less than 12 months and children under 16 who will not be subject to deemed authorisation and will only be able to donate if they, or someone on their behalf, explicitly authorise it.

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