Jane Nicklinson and Paul Lamb (above) have gone to the supreme court seeking a ruling that disabled people should have the right to be helped to die with dignity.

Nine justices are analysing the issue at a hearing in London expected to last four days and are due to announce a ruling next year.

A spokesman for the court said justices were being asked to decide if a prohibition on assisted suicide as outlined in the 1961 Suicide Act was compatible with the right to respect for private and family life enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

The pair have argued that the law should include a "defence of necessity" and that doctors should be allowed to assist suicide when people have a "voluntary, clear, settled and informed" wish to end their life but are unable do so without medical assistance.