TW v LB Enfield [2013] EWHC 1180 (QB), [2013] MHLO 59

The applicant argued that her nearest relative ought to have been consulted (under s11) before her s3 detention: she required leave of the High Court under s139(2) to bring a claim against the local authority, and sought a declaration of incompatibility. (1) The threshold for leave under s139(2) 'has been set at a very unexacting level. … An applicant with an arguable case will be granted leave'; the requirements of s139(1) prevent any claim 'unless the act [of applying for the applicant's admission] was done in bad faith or without reasonable care ... or is otherwise unlawful, for example because of a contravention of s11(4)'. (2) Even if s139(2) did have any effect on the applicant's rights under Article 6 read together with Article 14 (which it was not necessary to decide) that effect is plainly justified (the justification being 'the protection of those responsible for the care of mental patients from being harassed by litigation'). (3) If the argument that s139(1) is incompatible with the ECHR had not been withdrawn, the judge would have similarly dismissed it. (4) On the facts, it was clear that it was 'not reasonably practicable' to have consulted the nearest relative (the patient had repeatedly sent dictated letters instructing Enfield's staff not to involve her family, and had gone so far as to refer to having obtained solicitors' advice about breaches of patient confidentiality): permission under s139 was therefore refused. [Caution: see Court of Appeal decision.]

Related judgments

TW v Enfield Borough Council [2014] EWCA Civ 362, [2014] MHLO 26

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