Rabone v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust [2012] UKSC 2

(1) The operational obligation under Article 2 can in principle be owed to a hospital patient who is mentally ill, but who is not detained under the MHA. (2) There was a 'real and immediate' risk to the patient's life of which the Trust knew or ought to have known and which it failed to take reasonable steps to avoid, so the obligation was breached. (3) The patient's parents were 'victims' within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention. (4) They had not lost their victim status by settling a negligence claim, as (although it had in substance acknowledged its breach) the Trust had not made adequate redress. (5) The one-year limitation period in s7(5) HRA 1998 was extended becuase the extension was short, the Trust suffered no prejudice, the claimants acted reasonably in delaying, and there was a good claim. (6) The Court of Appeal's assessment of damages was upheld, and £5000 was awarded to each parent.

Related judgments

Rabone v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust [2012] UKSC 2


The ICLR have kindly agreed for their WLR (D) case report to be reproduced below.  


Judgment: 8/2/12

Hearing: 7-9/11/11

Before: Lord Walker, Lady Hale, Lord Brown, Lord Mance, Lord Dyson

Appellants: Jenni Richards QC, Nigel Poole (Instructed by Pannone LLP)

Respondent: Monica Carss-Frisk QC, Jane Mulcahy (Instructed by Hempsons)

Interveners (INQUEST, JUSTICE, Liberty and Mind): Paul Bowen and Alison Pickup (Instructed by Bindmans LLP)

External link

  • Mind, 'Supreme Court ruling welcomed by Mind and leading human rights organisations' (8/2/12): for full text and external link see Mind (Charity) page
  • Article 2 operational duty to protect right to life. George Szmukler, Genevra Richardson and Gareth Owen, '“Rabone” and Four Unresolved Problems in Mental Health Law' (2013) 37 The Psychiatrist 297 — Journal's summary: "In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of the UK ruled that the state has a special operational duty to protect the right to life in informal psychiatric in-patients (‘Rabone case’), in sharp distinction to general medical or surgical patients. We will argue that the significance of this case is general, not just local, and that it exposes four important unresolved problems in mental health law: the place of decision-making capacity; the meaning of ‘informal’ admission; parity between mental and physical health; and the accuracy of risk assessment."

[2012] MHLO 6