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Not many cases (230 of them) have been added to the database so far. To see the full list of cases (2057) go to the Mental health case law page.

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Cases > Subject : Advance decision cases or Best interests or Bias or Testamentary capacity cases

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Page name Sentence Summary
Clitheroe v Bond (2020) EWHC 1185 (Ch)

Testamentary capacity

"This is a bitter family dispute between the Claimant brother and Defendant sister as to whether their mother, the deceased, had testamentary capacity to make each of her two wills and in addition or in the alternative whether either or both wills resulted from fraudulent calumny."

Harrow CCG v IPJ (2018) EWCOP 44

Residence and care

"The Court is asked to determine where AJ should live and how he should be cared for. The applicant CCG has proposed an extensive package of care at the family home, with (most of) the financial arrangements managed by a third party broker. JA's parents, who are the Second and Third Respondents, do not agree the proposals and seek the dismissal of the application.

Hounslow Clinical Commissioning Group v RW (2019) EWCOP 12

Death

"This is an application brought by the Hounslow Clinical Commissioning Group concerning RW a 78-year-old man, suffering from vascular dementia. ... I would very much have liked to have been able to endorse a plan which permitted RW to return home. There is no doubt at all, as the history of this case shows, that RW would want to die at home. I do not know whether he would survive the transition but I should have been prepared to take that risk. However, PT would, in my judgement, continue to try to give his father food and water. As I speak these words he indicates to me that this is precisely what he would do. I have been told by Ms I that, at this stage, if PT were to attempt to feed his father there is a real risk that he would asphyxiate on any food given. I cannot permit RW to be exposed to the risk of ending his life in this way and, if I may say so, I would not be prepared to take that risk for PT either, especially having regard to all the loving care he has provided for his father. I endorse the applicant's plan. I indicate that it is in RW's best interest to have his sons with him as much as possible. I am not prepared to be prescriptive of the times and the circumstances in which the sons may visit. In this I reject the applicant's proposals in this respect."

James v James (2018) EWHC 43 (Ch)

Banks v Goodfellow test for testamentary capacity survives MCA

"There is a preliminary question of law as to the test to be applied for testamentary capacity in a case like this, where the testator has made a will, died, and then the question of capacity has arisen. The traditional test for such a case is that laid down in Banks v Goodfellow (1870) LR 5 QB 549, 565, per Cockburn CJ: 'It is essential … that a testator shall understand the nature of his act and its effects; shall understand the extent of the property of which he is disposing; shall be able to comprehend and appreciate the claims to which he ought to give effect, and, with a view to the latter object, that no disorder of the mind shall poison his affections, avert his sense of right, or prevent the exercise of his natural faculties, that no insane delusion shall influence his will in disposing of his property and bring about a disposal of it which, if his mind had been sound, would not have been made.' ... More recently the Mental Capacity Act 2005 has made fresh provision for the law of mental capacity in certain situations. What is unfortunately not made express in that legislation is the extent to which this fresh provision affects the test for capacity to make a will when that question is being judged retrospectively (typically, though not necessarily, post mortem). ... The general rule of precedent, as applied in the High Court, is that that court is not strictly bound by decisions of co-ordinate jurisdiction, but will follow them as a matter of comity unless convinced they are wrong ... As it happens, I think the decision in Walker v Badmin [2014] EWHC 71 (Ch)Not on Bailii! [that the test in Banks v Goodfellow not only had survived the enactment of the 2005 Act, but that it, rather than anything in the Act, was still the sole test of capacity for judging will-making capacity in retrospect] is right, and for the reasons given by the deputy judge. ... Whilst it is a complication to have two tests for mental capacity in making wills, one prospective and the other retrospective, it is a complication created by the decision of Parliament to legislate as it has, a decision that the courts must respect."

JG v Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (2019) UKUT 187 (AAC)

Non-legal research by judge

Judicial summary from gov.uk website: "Mental Health First-tier Tribunal - Judicial Bias - Apparent bias - Breach of Natural Justice - Procedural Irregularity. Where a First-tier Tribunal judge undertook non-legal research by accessing a court of appeal judgment in respect of the appellant, did this lead to a presumption of bias and automatic disqualification? Did it lead to a conclusion of a real possibility of bias? Whether so doing amounts to a procedural irregularity leading to a breach of natural justice in that it rendered the hearing unfair. In the circumstances appertaining there can be no presumption of bias leading to automatic disqualification. On the facts of the case there was no real possibility of bias. Undertaking the non-legal research was a procedural irregularity but on the facts the hearing was not unfair."

LB Islington v AA (2018) EWCOP 24

Residence, wishes and feelings

"These proceedings began with three applications, all dated 27th July 2017. One application was made on form DLA in respect of an Urgent Authorisation of deprivation of liberty at C Lodge granted on 24th July 2017. The other applications were made on forms COP1 and COP9, and sought orders for the return of AA to C Lodge."

London Borough of Hackney v SJF (2019) EWCOP 8

Residence, contact, tenancy

"SJF is a 56 year old woman with a complicated matrix of physical and mental health issues. Apart from frequent hospital admissions, she is presently living in a residential placement. She wants to go home to live in her rented flat with her son. The Court is asked to determine: (a) Whether she has capacity to make decisions about where she lives, how she is cared for, the contact she has with others (notably her son) and whether to terminate and enter into tenancy agreements; and (b) If she lacks capacity in the relevant domains, where she should live, whether her contact with her son should be restricted and whether tenancy agreements should be terminated/entered into."

NHS Cumbria CCG v Rushton (2018) EWCOP 41

Withdrawal of CANH; advance decision

"This is an application regarding the proposed withdrawal of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration in respect of Mrs Jillian Rushton, who is now 85 years of age. Since sustaining a traumatic head injury in December 2015, Mrs Rushton has suffered from a prolonged period of disorder of consciousness. Insofar as a label is relevant, the consensus of medical opinion, in respect of which there is no dissent at all, is that she is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). In their recent guidance, ‘Clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration (CANH) and adults who lack the capacity to consent’, the Royal College of Physicians and the British Medical Association have noted that the importance of obtaining a precise and definitive diagnosis has reduced. It is recognised by the Courts and clinicians that drawing a firm distinction between vegetative state and minimally conscious state is frequently both artificial and unnecessary. In practice, when assessing best interests, information about the patient’s current condition and prognosis for functional recovery and the level of confidence with which these can be evaluated is invariably of greater importance than a precise diagnosis. ... It perhaps requires to be said, though in my view it should be regarded as axiomatic, that the medical profession must give these advanced decisions the utmost care, attention and scrutiny. I am confident the profession does but I regret to say that I do not think sufficient care and scrutiny took place here. The lesson is an obvious one and needs no amplification. Where advanced decisions have been drawn up and placed with GP records there is an onerous burden on the GP to ensure, wherever possible, that they are made available to clinicians in hospital. By this I mean a copy of the decision should be made available and placed within the hospital records with the objective that the document should follow the patient. It need hardly be said that it will rarely, if ever, be sufficient to summarise an advance decision in a telephone conversation. ... The family have ... made it clear to me that she would not have regarded her present situation as tolerable. Whilst I have no doubt that she would understand the commitment of her son, Tim and his profound resistance to letting her go, I have equally no doubt that she would want to be let go and I have no hesitation in concluding that it is my responsibility to respect this."

Parsonage v Parsonage (2019) EWHC 2362 (Ch)

Validity of will

" The validity of the 2011 Will is challenged by D1 on the grounds that BP lacked capacity (1) to know and understand the nature and effect of the 2011 Will, (2) to know and understand the size of her estate, and/or (3) to know and appreciate the claims to which she ought to give effect. The underlying factual basis of the challenge is the severity or extent of BP's dementia and the circumstances in which the 2011 Will was prepared and executed."

PBM v TGT (2019) EWCOP 6

Marriage, prenuptial agreement, information about extent of assets, etc

"... I identified the issues that would need to be considered at the final hearing. These were: (a) PBM's capacity to: (i) marry; (ii) make a will; (iii) enter into a prenuptial agreement; (iv) manage his property and affairs (or part thereof); (v) make decisions as to the arrangements for his care; and (vi) make decisions in relation to contact with others. (b) If PBM lacks capacity to manage his property and affairs: (i) whether (if he has capacity to enter into an antenuptial agreement and/or make a will) he should be provided with information about the extent of his assets; (ii) whether it is in his best interest for the court to direct any changes or further safeguards in relation to the current arrangement for their management; (iii) what steps should be taken to assist PBM in developing skills which may assist him in gaining capacity in that regard. (c) If PBM lacks capacity as to his care arrangements, whether it is in his best interest for further directions to be given by the court in relation thereto."

PW v Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (2018) EWCA Civ 1067

Best interests/transparency

"Two central criticisms are made of the judgment below, and the judge's determination of best interests. First, that the judge failed to appreciate and therefore give any or any adequate weight to RW's wishes and feeling. These were, contrary to her findings, ascertainable; they pointed to the fact that he was a "fighter", to the value he ascribed to life and to his desire to "hold fast to it" no matter how "poor" or "vestigial" in nature it was. Secondly, the judge overstated the risk that having the NG tube in place would pose for RW at home and the burden this would place on him, in circumstances where the dedicated care his sons could provide would remove or mitigate that risk. In the result, and in any event, it is submitted the judge's overall analysis of what was in RW's best interests failed adequately to address the relevant issues and evidence, and was a flawed one. In my view neither criticism is well-founded." Another aspect of this case related to the transparency order/reporting restrictions.

Re M: A v Z (2018) EWCOP 4

COP bias

"This matter concerns an appeal from the order of HHJ Roberts made on 18 July 2018 in Court of Protection (COP) proceedings concerning M. The appellants are M's mother and father in law who have the care of X, M's son age 12. ... Mr Simblet relies on four grounds of appeal: (1) There was apparent bias, in that the judge stated her intention in the exchange between the judge and the legal representatives, in the absence of the parties, to decide the application consistent with decisions made in different proceedings. (2) The judge wrongly felt constrained to reach a decision that would be consistent with a decision she had reached in different proceedings. (3) There was a material irregularity, in that the Judge took into account material from different proceedings, and the [paternal grandparents] within the COP proceedings were unable to properly know the case against them or that they had to meet. (4) In reaching her decision the judge failed to identify or give sufficient weight to factors that were relevant to M's best interests."

Todd v Parsons (2019) EWHC 3366 (Ch)

Testamentary capacity

"The claim was opposed by the third defendant, challenging that will on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity, want of knowledge and approval and undue influence. ... The traditional test for capacity is that laid down in Banks v Goodfellow (1870) LR 5 QB 549 ... In James v James [2018] WTLR 1313, I held that the traditional test still applied, and had not been replaced by that contained in the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Neither party argued before me that the test should now be that contained in the 2005 Act, although the third defendant reserved the right to argue otherwise on appeal. ... In my judgment the 2008 will is valid."

Whittaker v Hancock & Ors (2018) EWHC 3478 (Ch)

LPA attorney as substituted personal representative

"The claimant has brought a claim under section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 to be appointed as substitute personal representative of the estate of John Parker in place of the second defendant, her mother, and for a caveat entered by the third defendant on 20 July 2016 to be removed. ... The third defendant is the deceased's daughter and opposes the claim. ... In a statement accompanying the Will, signed by the deceased and witnessed by a legal secretary the deceased explains that he has made no provision for the third defendant ... On 20 July 2016 the third defendant caused a caveat to be entered. She subsequently entered an appearance to the claimant's warning asserting that the 2003 Will may be invalid due to the deceased lacking testamentary capacity, being subject to undue influence and want of knowledge and approval. ... Mr Devereux-Cooke submits that I should make an order appointing the claimant as substitute personal representative for the second defendant. The claimant is the attorney for the second defendant, the LPA having been registered on 16 January 2014. The second defendant cannot consent to the claim as she lacks capacity. The first defendant does not oppose the claim. ... It is a general LPA in respect of property and financial affairs that is in wide terms enabling the claimant, as attorney, to make decisions about the second defendant's property and financial affairs. There are no conditions or restrictions specified in the instrument. ... It is also relevant that the second defendant is the sole beneficiary under the 2003 will. She is in a different position to a case where there are a number of beneficiaries. ... I accept Mr Devereux-Cooke's analysis that the claimant has standing to bring this claim under section 50. If I am wrong in my analysis I consider that the position could be remedied by adding the second defendant as a claimant and appointing the current claimant as her litigation friend. I also accept Mr Devereux-Cooke's analysis of rules 31 and 35 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 and would have been prepared to treat the claim as including this as an alternative legal route, had it been necessary. ... I consider that in order for the deceased's estate to be administered it is necessary to substitute the claimant as personal representative in place of the second defendant."

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