Essex County Council v RF [2015] EWCOP 1, [2015] MHLO 2

(1) A final declaration was made that P lacked capacity to make decisions in relation to his residence and care arrangements, but retained capacity to make decisions in relation to contact with others. (2) In considering quantum for unlawful detention there is a difference between procedural breaches (which would have made no difference to P's living or care arrangements) and substantive breaches (where P would not have been detained if the authority had acted lawfully). (3) The judge approved the following compromise agreement: (a) a declaration that ECC unlawfully deprived P of his liberty for approximately 13 months; (b) £60,000 damages; (c) care home fees to be waived (around £23-25,000); (d) damages to be excluded from means testing for community care costs; (e) costs to be paid (may exceed £64,000). (4) The judge described the situation as follows: "It is hard to imagine a more depressing and inexcusable state of affairs. A defenceless 91 year old gentleman in the final years of his life was removed from his home of 50 years and detained in a locked dementia unit against his wishes. Had it not been for the alarm raised by his friend RF he may have been condemned to remain there for the remainder of his days. There can be no doubt that ECC's practice was substandard. They failed to recognise the weakness of their own case and the strength of the case against them. They appeared unprepared to countenance any view contrary to their own. They maintained their resolute opposition to P returning to his home until the last possible moment. In my judgment the conduct of ECC has been reprehensible. The very sad and disturbing consequences for P cannot be ignored."

External link


Richard Mumford, 'What price liberty? Damages, DOLS and a cat named Fluffy' (UK Human Rights Blog, 29/1/15)