FC v UK (1999) 37344/97  ECHR 184
The applicant complained under Article 8 of the Convention that her adoptive father (whom she claims sexually abused her) automatically became her nearest relative under s26, that he consequently had access to personal information about her (including her treatment and whereabouts) and that she was not entitled to apply to have someone else act as her nearest relative; the case was struck out of the list by way of a friendly settlement on the basis that the government would change the law.
The change was finally made by the MHA 2007:
- Patient can apply to displace nearest relative, who can now be displaced on grounds of unsuitability 3/11/08
The summary below has been supplied by Kris Gledhill, Editor of the Mental Health Law Reports. The full report can be purchased from Southside Online Publishing (if there is a "file not found" error, it means this particular report is not yet available online). More similar case summaries from the year 1999 are available here: MHLR 1999.
Whether the inability of a patient to change nearest relative breached Art 8 ECHR - FC v UK  MHLR 174
Points Arising: The lack of a provision allowing a patient to apply to change their nearest relative, meaning that the role was played by someone the patient did not wish to know their mental health status, breached Art 8 ECHR.
Facts and Outcome: In 1994, FC was detained under s3 Mental Health Act 1983, and detention was renewed on several occasions; she made one application to a Tribunal and there was a subsequent referral. By reason of s26 of the 1983 Act, her nearest relative was her adoptive father: she had no contact with him and did not wish him to have any information about her; she alleged he had sexually abused her. An application to the county court to change the nearest relative had been refused on the basis that there was no power to make the change. An application to the European Court of Human Rights alleging that this breached Art 8 was settled on the basis of an undertaking by the UK to change the law (as part of a general review of mental health law) to allow detained patients to apply to change their nearest relative and a payment of £2000 in non-pecuniary damage, plus legal costs. The Court accepted that there was no reason to consider the application further.