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Drilldown: Cases

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Page name Sentence Summary
A Local Authority v BF (2018) EWCA Civ 2962

Inherent jurisdiction to authorise DOL of vulnerable adult

An interim order made on 10/12/18 required BF to reside at a care home, over Christmas, and not at his own or his son's home, despite BF's having capacity to make decisions about his residence and wanting to return home. The order was expressed to last until a further hearing to take place no later than 31/1/19 (later fixed for 16/1/19) when the judge could hear full argument on what relief could be granted pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction. The local authority appealed on the basis that the order infringed Article 5. Permission to appeal was refused: (1) BF is a vulnerable adult (old, blind, infirm, in a squalid and dangerous home, with undue influence present in relationship with son) who needs protection despite not lacking capacity. (2) The test of "unsound mind" is different from the test of capacity, and there is prima facie evidence that he may be of unsound mind. (3) In an emergency situation, someone may be deprived of their liberty in the absence of evidence of mental disorder without infringing Article 5 (Winterwerp); even if BF is found not to be of unsound mind, his vulnerability is such that he could not be returned home without careful planning, which is a crucial component of the protection afforded by the inherent jurisdiction.

A Local Authority v JB (2020) EWCA Civ 735

Capacity and sexual relations

"The issue arising on this appeal is whether a person, in order to have capacity to decide to have sexual relations with another person, needs to understand that the other person must at all times be consenting to sexual relations."

Bassetlaw CCG (19 006 727a) and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (19 006 727b) (2019) MHLO 67 (LGSCO)

Complaint not upheld by LGSCO

LGSCO summary: "The Ombudsmen found no fault by the Council, Trust or CCG with regards to the care and support they provided to a woman with mental health problems. The Ombudsmen did find fault with a risk assessment the Trust completed. However, we are satisfied this did not have a significant impact on the care the Trust provided."

Blavo and Co Solicitors (SRA decision: closure) (2015) MHLO 70

Reasons for closure of Blavo & Co Solicitors

The SRA closed down Blavo & Co Solicitors and suspended John Blavo's practising certificate, giving the following reasons: (a) there is reason to suspect dishonesty of the part of a manager or employee of Blavo & Co Solicitors Limited; (b) there is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of John Blavo in connection with his practice; (c) to protect the interests of clients of Blavo & Co Solicitors Limited.

DCC v NLH (2019) EWCOP 9

Retrospective authorisation of DNA swab sample

"I concluded it would be appropriate to make a declaration (1) that NLH lacked capacity (a) to make decisions as to the provision of buccal swab samples, the testing of such samples and the profiling of his DNA and (b) to conduct these proceedings, and further (2) that it was lawful for the local authority to arrange for the taking of buccal swabs from NLH for the purposes of performing DNA paternity testing in respect of the child. I further concluded it would be appropriate to make an order, by consent, that the court consented on NLH's behalf for the swab sample to be taken and tested and so that his DNA could be profiled to establish whether he was the father of the child. Shortly before the order was made, however, it emerged that a member of staff from the DNA testing company, Lextox, had already attended at the nursing home and taken the sample, with the agreement of NLH's family, but without either the formal consent of NLH (who lack capacity to provide consent) or the approval of the court. ... I therefore agreed to prepare this short judgment to remind practitioners, carers and those involved in taking samples in these circumstances that, where the patient lacks capacity and an application has been made to the Court of Protection for an order authorising the taking of a sample, it will be unlawful for the sample to be taken without the Court's permission. All practitioners and professionals working in this field ought to be aware that there is always a judge of the Family Division on duty available to sit in the Court of Protection twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year, to deal with urgent applications, usually by telephone. Consequently, there is no excuse for any failure to comply with the obligations to obtain the court's permission in circumstances such as these. As stated, no harm arose on this occasion, but any infringement in future will run the risk not only of attracting severe criticism from the Court but also potentially incurring liability for damages if a breach of human rights were to be established."

Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (17 012 839a) (2019) MHLO 44 (LGSCO)

Complaint about community care delay

LGSCO's summary: "The Ombudsmen do not consider Derbyshire County Council and Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust delayed providing support for Mrs X’s mental health needs. We have not found fault with the way the Council decided what support she needed. The Ombudsmen consider Derbyshire County Council delayed completing Mr X’s carer assessment and should have considered carrying out an integrated assessment with Mrs X. However, it has remedied the distress Mr X suffered."

Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (18 018 548a) (2019) MHLO 66 (LGSCO)

Carer's assessment failures

LGSCO summary: "The Ombudsmen have upheld Mrs G’s complaint about the way her carer’s assessments were carried out. We have not found fault with the way the Trust, Council and CCG arranged Mr H’s accommodation under s117 of the Mental Health Act or how the Trust communicated with Mrs G and Mr H about this."

LV v UK 50718/16 (2018) MHLO 22

MHT/Parole Board delay

"Complaint: The applicant complains under Article 5(4) of the Convention that she did not have a speedy review of the legality of her detention. In particular, she contends that her right to a speedy review was violated both by delays on the part of the Public Protection Casework Section and the Parole Board, and from the unnecessary two-stage Tribunal/Parole Board process. Question to the Parties: Was the review of the applicant’s detention which commenced on 24 May 2011 and concluded on 21 March 2013 conducted 'speedily' within the meaning of Article 5(4) of the Convention?" (The first paragraph of the decision is wrong as the applicant's solicitor works for Campbell Law Solicitors.)

Milton Keynes CCG (17 018 823e) (2019) MHLO 61 (LGSCO)

Section 117 complaint

"Whilst the Trust was acting on behalf of the CCG in carrying out the s117 actions, the CCG is ultimately responsible for s.117 provision, along with the Council. ... The CCG, Trust and the Council should, by 23 December: (a) Write to Mrs B apologising for the impact of the fault in relation to not refunding the care fees relating to the supported living placement. (b) Confirm with Mrs B and refund the supported living fees which have not already been reimbursed. Mrs B may need to provide additional information to the organisations about fees paid as part of this. (c) Write to Miss A and Mrs B personally and apologise for the impact the lack of s.117 planning had on both of them individually due to the length of time Miss A went without adequate support. They should also apologise for the uncertainty caused by not knowing whether the incidents outlined above could have been avoided. (d) Pay Miss A £1500 and Mrs B £1000 each in recognition of the impact of the and length of time Miss A had a lack of s.117 support. By 20 February 2020, the Council, CCG and Trust should create an action plan of how they will notify and cooperate with each other to ensure patients are assessed promptly and s.117 care put in place in line with the MHA Code of Practice. This action plan should include a review of progress and the impact of any changes following implementation of the plan."

NHS Dorset CCG v LB (2018) EWCOP 7

COP costs

"In 2017, the NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group launched what were intended to be four test cases seeking clarification of the law concerning the deprivation of liberty of mentally capacitated adults. For various reasons, however, all of those applications, or in some cases that part of the application relating to the deprivation of liberty issue, were withdrawn, but not before the Official Solicitor had agreed to act for two of the respondents with the benefit of publicly-funded certificates and had incurred some legal costs. Subsequently, the Official Solicitor has applied for all or part of those costs to be paid by the applicant. This judgment sets out my decision on that costs application and the reasons for that decision."

NHS Guilford and Waverley CCG (18 007 431a) (2019) MHLO 60 (LGSCO)

Section 117 complaint

"(1) Within one month of my final decision, the Council and CCG will: (a) Write to Miss X and Mr Y, acknowledging the fault identified in this decision and offering meaningful apologies; (b) Jointly pay Mr Y £500 for failure to provide support as outlined on his s117 aftercare plan, delayed care planning, loss of opportunity to re-engage him and distress as a result of poor communication around his care plan and eviction; (c) Jointly pay Miss X £150 for poor complaint handling, stress and inconvenience. (2) Within three months of my final decision, the Council and CCG will ensure that Cherrytrees and all other providers acting on their behalf under s117 review their policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the relevant parts of the Code of Practice: Mental Health Act Code 1983, the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 and the Care Act 2014, in relation to: (a) Care planning; (b) Daily record keeping; (c) Complaint handling, including ensuring all points are responded to adequately and complainants are properly signposted should they wish to escalate their complaint."

PB v Priory Group Ltd (2018) MHLO 74

Damages for unlawful psychiatric detention

A Part 36 offer of £11,500 plus legal costs was accepted in this claim brought for unlawful detention and breach of Article 5. The patient had been detained under s5(2) when not an in-patient, and this section had lapsed for nearly seven hours before detention under s2 began.

Public Guardian v DA (2018) EWCOP 26

LPA wording - euthanasia and multiple attorneys

"This judgment concerns two test cases brought by the Public Guardian, by applications made under s.23 and Schedule 1 paragraph 11 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, regarding the validity of words in lasting powers of attorney ('LPAs'). The first concerns words relating to euthanasia or assisted suicide, whereas the second concerns words as to the appointment of multiple attorneys. Although the substance of the issues to which the words are directed is very different in the two cases, there is considerable overlap in the legal argument, the active parties were the same in the two sets of proceedings (the Public Guardian and the Official Solicitor) represented by the same counsel, and it is convenient to consider both cases in one judgment."

R v Edwards (2018) EWCA Crim 595

Sentencing guidance, including s37 and s45A

These four cases were listed before the court to consider issues arising from the sentencing of mentally ill offenders to indeterminate terms of imprisonment. (1) Comparison of release regimes under s37/41 and s45A. (2) Rules governing applications to this court to advance new grounds or fresh evidence. (3) General principles: "Finally, to assist those representing and sentencing offenders with mental health problems that may justify a hospital order, a finding of dangerousness and/or a s.45A order, we summarise the following principles we have extracted from the statutory framework and the case law. (i) The first step is to consider whether a hospital order may be appropriate. (ii) If so, the judge should then consider all his sentencing options including a s.45A order. (iii) In deciding on the most suitable disposal the judge should remind him or herself of the importance of the penal element in a sentence. (iv) To decide whether a penal element to the sentence is necessary the judge should assess (as best he or she can) the offender’s culpability and the harm caused by the offence. The fact that an offender would not have committed the offence but for their mental illness does not necessarily relieve them of all responsibility for their actions. (v) A failure to take prescribed medication is not necessarily a culpable omission; it may be attributable in whole or in part to the offender’s mental illness. (vi) If the judge decides to impose a hospital order under s.37/41, he or she must explain why a penal element is not appropriate. (vii) The regimes on release of an offender on licence from a s.45A order and for an offender subject to s.37/41 orders are different but the latter do not necessarily offer a greater protection to the public, as may have been assumed in Ahmed and/or or by the parties in the cases before us. Each case turns on its own facts. (viii) If an offender wishes to call fresh psychiatric evidence in his appeal against sentence to support a challenge to a hospital order, a finding of dangerousness or a s45A order he or she should lodge a s.23 application. If the evidence is the same as was called before the sentencing judge the court is unlikely to receive it. (ix) Grounds of appeal should identify with care each of the grounds the offender wishes to advance. If an applicant or appellant wishes to add grounds not considered by the single judge an application to vary should be made." (4) The court considered the individual appeals/application, noting that it is appellate not a review court and that the question is whether the sentence imposed was manifestly excessive or wrong in principle.

R v Spencer (1987) UKHL 2

Nurses' appeal against ill-treatment conviction

Six nurses appealed against convictions for ill-treating a patient contrary to s126 Mental Health Act 1959 (the old equivalent of MHA 1983 s127), three successfully.

Re M: AB v HT (2018) EWCOP 2

Declaration of non-marriage in English law

"These complex and difficult proceedings in the Court of Protection concern a 37-year-old woman, hereafter referred to as M, who (as I have found, for reasons set out below) at present lacks capacity by virtue of a combination of psychotic illness and acquired brain injury. The parties to the proceedings are the applicant, M's father, hereafter referred to as AB; her aunt, hereafter referred to as HT; the local authority for the area where HT, and currently M, live, namely the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham; and a man hereafter referred to as MS, with whom M went through a religious ceremony of marriage in 2013. A dispute has arisen concerning a number of issues about her past, present and future which has necessitated a lengthy and unusual fact-finding hearing. This judgment sets out my conclusions on the disputed matters of fact, together with an analysis as to her capacity, and orders made following my findings."

Re P (Sexual Relations and Contraception): A Local Authority v P (2018) EWCOP 10

Sex and covert contraception

"This judgment in long-running proceedings involving a vulnerable young woman, hereafter referred to as 'P', addresses difficult issues concerning her sexual relationships and the covert insertion of a contraceptive device. ... I shall address these issues in the following order: (1) Capacity - general principles. (2) P's capacity other than sexual relations. (3) P's capacity to consent to sexual relations. (4) Best interests: general principles. (5) Best interests: contraception. (6) Best interests: covert treatment (6) Best interests: sexual relationships and supervision. (7) Further issues arising from the draft order." ... Given the serious infringement of rights involved in the covert insertion of a contraceptive device, it is in my judgement highly probable that, in most, if not all, cases, professionals faced with a decision whether to take that step will conclude that it is appropriate to apply to the court to facilitate a comprehensive analysis of best interests, with P having the benefit of legal representation and independent expert advice.

Rotherham Doncaster & South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (18 010 101a) (2019) MHLO 43 (LGSCO)

Failure to carry out carer's assessment

LGSCO's summary of decision: "The Trust and Council were at fault in not carrying out a carer’s assessment and not involving Mrs S during her husband’s period of treatment. There was also fault in record-keeping and delays in responding to the complaint. These failings caused an injustice to Mrs S as she lost the opportunity for additional support and is likely to have suffered additional distress. The Trust and Council have already taken action to address these failings and improve processes. The Trust and Council have agreed to pay Mrs S financial redress and the Trust has agreed to monitor and report on improvements in its complaints handling."

Staffordshire County Council (18 004 809) (2019) MHLO 41 (LGSCO)

Failure to carry out DOLS assessments

LGSCO decision: "The Council has acted with fault in deciding not to assess low and medium priority Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards applications. The Council is also taking too long to deal with urgent applications. This is causing a potential injustice to the thousands of people in its area who are being deprived of their liberty without the proper checks that the restrictions they are subject to are in their best interests." The final sentence of the conclusion states: "[I]t is not acceptable that the only way low and medium priority applications are resolved is because the people involved move away or die."

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (19 012 290a) (2020) MHLO 21 (LGSCO)

Section status and aftercare

"Summary: The Ombudsmen find there was fault by a Trust in giving a family incorrect information about a mental health patient’s status. When this came to light it caused the patient’s wife considerable stress which has not yet been fully addressed. The Ombudsmen also find that fault by a Council meant the patient’s wife suffered this stress for too long. The Ombudsmen has recommended small financial payments to act as an acknowledgement of the outstanding injustice."

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