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Mental Health Law Online

The internet resource on mental health law, and mental capacity law, for England & Wales. You can read a review of the site here.

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  • 20/05/19: Case (Police use of force). Gilchrist v Greater Manchester Police [2019] EWHC 1233 (QB) — "I recognise that this was a challenging situation for the police officers. They were faced with an individual who presented as very angry, covered in blood and with whom they were unable to communicate. Prior to Andrew Gilchrist's explanation, their assumption that Michael Gilchrist was an aggressor who, probably, had assaulted someone and needed to be detained, was reasonable. In those circumstances, their initial actions to attempt to bring him under control using CS gas and Taser were justified, reasonable and proportionate. However, once they were appraised of his vulnerability as an autistic man, and his behaviour suggested that he was defensive rather than aggressive, a more cautious approach should have been adopted. The further use of Taser, which had already proved to be ineffective, and following the use of CS gas, was inappropriate. The alternative course mandated by PS Morris, namely, using the force of the officers available to take Mr Gilchrist to the ground and restrain him without using weapons was a reasonable and proportionate response."
  • 15/05/19: Case (Capacity to consent to sex with husband). London Borough of Tower Hamlets v NB [2019] EWCOP 17 — "There is also evidence that indicates that NB very much enjoys the status of marriage, is affectionate to her husband [AU] and, on occasion, initiates sexual relations. This appears consistent with Ms Wilson's observations as long ago as 1996. The primary issue before the Court is whether NB truly has the capacity to consent to sexual relations. ... Unfortunately, the case attracted a great deal of media coverage, this notwithstanding that no argument had been heard and no Judgment delivered. A great deal of the comment was sententious and, in some instances, irresponsible. It is considered, by the Official Solicitor and the applicant Local Authority, that the impact of that publicity frightened AU very considerably, leading him to believe that he was likely to be sent to prison. He has left the party's flat and disengaged with these proceedings. ... [Mr Bagchi for the OS] submits it is a 'general' or 'issue-specific' test rather than a partner-specific one. If Mr Bagchi is correct, the difficulty that presents in this case is that there is only one individual with whom it is really contemplated that NB is likely to have a sexual relationship i.e. her husband of 27 years. It seems entirely artificial therefore to be assessing her capacity in general terms when the reality is entirely specific. ... As I said on the last occasion, these issues are integral to the couple's basic human rights. There is a crucial social, ethical and moral principle in focus. It is important that the relevant test is not framed in such a restrictive way that it serves to discriminate against those with disabilities, in particular those with low intelligence or border line capacity. ... Mr Bagchi has accepted that if a person-specific test were applied here then the outcome, in terms of assessment of NB's capacity may be different. ... I do not necessarily consider that the applicable test in the Court of Protection necessarily excludes the 'person specific approach'. I am reserving my Judgment ..."
  • 15/05/19: Case (Capacity and ability to communicate). Patel v Arriva Midlands Ltd [2019] EWHC 1216 (QB) — "Dr Fleminger's assessment was: 'Whether or not he can understand what information he is given and use and weigh this information in the balance to make decision, he is unable to communicate any decision he has made. Whether or not he regains capacity in the future depends on the outcome of his conversion disorder'. I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Dr Fleminger's capacity assessment was made on the basis of incorrect information gleaned from the Claimant's presentation and from what he was told by Chirag Patel of the Claimant's disabilities, namely that the Claimant was unable to communicate any decision he has made. ... In addition ... I do accept Dr Schady's opinion [that there is no conversion disorder]. Once again that leaves the Claimant with a presumption of capacity. ... To summarise: (i) The Claimant is presumed to have capacity. (ii) The court finds that the Claimant has been fundamentally dishonest in respect of his claim, and his litigation friend Chirag Patel has participated in this dishonesty. (iii) The entirety of the claim is dismissed, the court being satisfied that no substantial injustice would be caused in so doing. The court assesses damages for the 'honest part' of the claim at £5750."
  • 15/05/19: Case (Inquest and DOLS). R (Maguire) v United Response [2019] EWHC 1232 (Admin) — "First, the claimant contends that the defendant erred in law by determining at the end of the evidence that article 2 no longer applied under Parkinson, thereby prejudging a matter that should have been left to the jury. Secondly, the Coroner erred in law by determining that the jury should not be directed to consider whether neglect should form part of their conclusion. ... That the case law has extended the positive duty beyond the criminal justice context in Osman is not in doubt. The reach of the duty, beyond what Lord Dyson called the "paradigm example" of detention, is less easy to define. We have reached the conclusion, however, that the touchstone for state responsibility has remained constant: it is whether the circumstances of the case are such as to call a state to account: Rabone, para 19, citing Powell. In the absence of either systemic dysfunction arising from a regulatory failure or a relevant assumption of responsibility in a particular case, the state will not be held accountable under article 2. ... We agree that a person who lacks capacity to make certain decisions about his or her best interests - and who is therefore subject to DOLS under the 2005 Act - does not automatically fall to be treated in the same way as Lord Dyson's paradigm example. In our judgment, each case will turn on its facts. ... [The Coroner] properly directed himself as to the appropriate test to apply to the issue of neglect and having done so declined to leave the issue to the jury."


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