DCC v NLH  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."