Law 24/ 2009, of 29th May

(In force since 1st June 2009)


Juridical Regime of the National Ethics Council for the Life Sciences


The General Assembly decrees the following, under the terms of paragraph c) of article 161 of the Constitution:


Article 1



The present law stipulates the juridical regime of the National Ethics Council for the Life Sciences.


Article 2

Nature and mission


The National Ethics Council for the Life Sciences, abbreviated as CNECV, is an independent consulting body that works with the Parliament and whose mission is to analyse the ethical issues raised by scientific progress in the fields of biology, medicine or health in general and in the life sciences.


Article 3

Competences of the CNECV


1 – The CNECV must:

a) Systematically follow-up the evolution of ethical issues raised by scientific progress in the fields of biology, medicine or health in general and in the life sciences;

b) Issue opinions on the issues pertaining to the previous paragraph, when such is requested under the terms of article 6 or by its initiative; 

c) Present an annual report to the Parliament on the state of application of new technologies to human life and respective implications of ethical and social nature, formulating the recommendations it deems convenient;

d) Promote the training as well as raising awareness of the population in general about the ethical issues in the fields of the life sciences, through its initiative or in collaboration with other public, social or private entities, namely by holding conferences periodically or publicly presenting the most important issues that have been submitted for their analysis;

e) Ensure the national representation in international meetings of counterparts;

f) Release its activities, opinions and publications, for which it has its own editorial facilities;

g) Set up a report on its activity at the end of each calendar year, to be sent to the President of the Republic, the President of the Parliament and the Prime-Minister, and to release in the respective site on the Internet.

2 – The CNECV may delegate, wholly or partially, the competences referred to in the previous number to the steering committee as laid out in No. 2 of article 5, with the exception of those laid out in paragraph b) of the previous number. 

Article 4


1 – The CNECV has the following composition:

a) Six persons of acknowledged merit who will assure special qualification in ethical reflection raised by the life sciences, elected by Parliament according to the method of Hondt’s highest-average rule; this election also provides for six substitutes;

b) Ten persons of acknowledged merit who will assure special qualification in the realm of bioethical issues, appointed by the Medical Association, Nurses’ Association, Psychologists’ Association, Biologists’ Association, Bar Association, Pharmacists Association, Council of Deans of the Portuguese Universities, the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, the Medical-Legal Council of the National Institute of Forensic Medicine, Public Institute, upon consulting the respective technical-scientific committee and the Foundation for Science and Technology, Public Institute;

c) Three persons of acknowledged scientific merit in the fields of biology, medicine or health in general and of the life sciences and two persons of acknowledged scientific merit in the fields of law, sociology or philosophy, all appointed by resolution of the Council of Ministers.

2 – The mandate of the CNECV members is independent of that of the entities that appointed them and is valid for five years, which cannot be renewed more than once. 

3 – The mandate of the CNECV members begins by taking office before the President of the Parliament. 

4 – The CNECV elects, among its members, a president and a vice-president, the latter substituting the president in his/her absence or impediments.

5 – The CNECV members are independent in the exercise of their functions and do not represent the entities that elected or appointed them.

Amended by Article 393.º of Law n.o 2/2020 [Diário da República n.º 64/2020, Série I de 2020-03- 31]; entry into force 2020-04-01

Amended by Article 2.º of Law n.o 19/2015 [Diário da República n.º 46/2015, Série I de 2015-03- 06]; entry into force 2015-03-11


Article 5


 1 – The CNECV stipulates the discipline of its functioning through an internal regulation.

2 – The CNECV elects, among its members, a steering committee, with an executive nature and of permanent basis.

3 – The steering committee comprises two personalities of each category of the personalities mentioned in No. 1 of the previous article.

4 – The steering committee is presided by the CNECV president and also integrates the vice-president. 

5 – The steering committee tasks are to:

a) Follow up on the administrative and financial management of the CNECV;

b) Exercise the competences that have been delegated on it by the plenary session.

6 – By decision of the plenary session, specialized committees may be appointed to analyse specific issues.


Article 6

Issuing opinions

 1 – The following may request opinions of the CNECV:

a) The President of the Republic;

b) The Parliament, by initiative of its President, a committee or a twentieth of the Parliament members in full exercise of their office;

c) Government members;

d) All other entities with the right to appoint members;

e) Public or private centres where practices are carried out with ethical implications in the fields of biology, medicine or health.

2 – Upon safeguarding the situations of confidentiality laid out by law, the CNECV opinions are public and must be made available on the respective internet site.

3 – The CNECV may consult the persons and entities it deems necessary to issue its opinions.


Article 7

Administrative and financial support

1 – The administrative, logistics and financial support necessary for the CNECV functioning, as well as its establishment, are assured by the sums registered on its annual budget, which is included in the Parliament budget.

2 – Notwithstanding the duty to cooperate by the Parliament library and the documental support of public services, the CNECV has a documentation centre to support its functioning.

3 – To ensure the exercise of its competences, the CNECV may receive, according to its budget availability, its own support services under the terms to be stipulated by the resolution of the Parliament.

4 – The CNECV is supported by an executive secretary, who is responsible for: 

a) Secretarial work of the CNECV, preparing minutes of the meetings;

b) Ensure the good organization and functioning of the support services;

c) Prepare the annual report project. 

Article 8

Administrative and financial management

1 – The CNECV has administrative autonomy and has income from provisions registered in the Parliament budget, which are attributed to it by the State Budget.

2 – The CNECV also has income from its editorial activity and the accomplishment of training actions or conferences, as well as any other income which by law, contract or other means are attributed to it.

3 – The CNECV expenses are those deriving from the costs of carrying out its designated competences.

4 – The CNECV president must ensure the respective administrative and financial management and present to the Parliament secretary-general the annual CNECV budget.

Article 9

Fee statutes


The CNECV members are entitled to attendance fees to the amount to be defined by order of the Parliament President, for each meeting they participate in, as well as allowances and transport costs, under the terms of the general law.

Article 9 - A

Rights and guarantees

The members of the CNECV shall be released from their professional, public or private activities without loss of any rights or benefits while in the effective exercise of their functions in this body.

Amended by Article 2.º of Law n.o 76/2021 [Diário da República n.º 226/2021, Série I de 2021-11-22]; entry into force 2021-11-23

Article 10

Final and transitory provisions


1 – Up to the swearing into office of the new CNECV members appointed under the terms of the current law, the members appointed under the terms of the previous legislation remain in office, as well as support personnel in the office.

2 – The 2009 Parliament budget is reinforced by the State Budget sums necessary for the financial and logistics sustainability of the CNECV.


Article 11



Law No. 14/90, of 9 th  June, is hereby repealed.


Article 12

Date of entry into force


The current law comes into force on the 1 st  day of the month following its publication.


Approved on 27 th  March 2009.

The President of the Parliament, Jaime Gama.

Promulgated on 19 th  May 2009.

To be published.

The President of the Republic, Aníbal Cavaco Silva.

Subject to referendum on 20 th  May 2009.

The Prime-Minister, José Sócrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa.

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