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Drilldown: Cases

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Cases > Subject : Capacity to consent to sexual relations or Criminal law capacity cases or Inherent jurisdiction cases

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Page name Sentence Summary
A City Council v LS (2019) EWHC 1384 (Fam)

Secure accommodation and inherent jurisdiction

"Does the High Court have power under its inherent jurisdiction, upon the application of a local authority, to authorise the placement in secure accommodation of a 17 year old child who is not looked after by that local authority within the meaning of s 22(1) of the Children Act 1989, whose parent objects to that course of action, but who is demonstrably at grave risk of serious, and possibly fatal harm. I am satisfied that the answer is 'no'."

A Local Authority v BF (2018) EWCA Civ 2962

Inherent jurisdiction to authorise DOL of vulnerable adult

An interim order made on 10/12/18 required BF to reside at a care home, over Christmas, and not at his own or his son's home, despite BF's having capacity to make decisions about his residence and wanting to return home. The order was expressed to last until a further hearing to take place no later than 31/1/19 (later fixed for 16/1/19) when the judge could hear full argument on what relief could be granted pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction. The local authority appealed on the basis that the order infringed Article 5. Permission to appeal was refused: (1) BF is a vulnerable adult (old, blind, infirm, in a squalid and dangerous home, with undue influence present in relationship with son) who needs protection despite not lacking capacity. (2) The test of "unsound mind" is different from the test of capacity, and there is prima facie evidence that he may be of unsound mind. (3) In an emergency situation, someone may be deprived of their liberty in the absence of evidence of mental disorder without infringing Article 5 (Winterwerp); even if BF is found not to be of unsound mind, his vulnerability is such that he could not be returned home without careful planning, which is a crucial component of the protection afforded by the inherent jurisdiction.

B v A Local Authority (2019) EWCA Civ 913

(1) Overlap between different decisions; (2) Sex

(1) "The important questions on these appeals are as to the factors relevant to making the determinations of capacity which are under challenge and as to the approach to assessment of capacity when the absence of capacity to make a particular decision would conflict with a conclusion that there is capacity to make some other decision." (2) The Court of Appeal also decided on what is necessary to have capacity to consent to sexual relations.

CD v London Borough of Croydon (2019) EWHC 2943 (Fam)

Inherent jurisdiction or s48 interim order

(1) Cobb J discussed the inherent jurisdiction, setting out the following summary: (a) first the inherent jurisdiction may be deployed for the protection of vulnerable adults, (b) secondly in some cases a vulnerable adult may not be incapacitated within the meaning of the 2005 Mental Capacity Act but may nevertheless be protected under the inherent jurisdiction; (c) third that in some of those cases capacitous individuals may be of unsound mind within the meaning of article 5(i)(e) of the European Rights Convention; (d) fourth, in exercising my powers under the inherent jurisdiction I am bound by the European Convention and the case law under the convention and must only impose orders that are necessary and proportionate and at all times have proper regard to the personal autonomy of the individual; and (e) fifth and finally, that in certain circumstances it may be appropriate for a court to take or maintain interim protective measures while carrying out all necessary investigations. (2) In the end he made an interim order under MCA 2005 s48 enabling the Local Authority to gain access to CD's accommodation in order to provide appropriate care and make it safe for human habitation. (3) CD was a vulnerable adult but the order was made under the MCA because the judge was "satisfied that it is more appropriate, where statute provides a route, that the statute is used".

Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust v R (2020) EWCOP 4

Contingent/anticipatory declarations - MCA/inherent jurisdiction - Caesarean section

"All the treating clinicians agreed: R had capacity to make decisions as to her ante-natal and obstetric care; there was a substantial risk of a deterioration in R's mental health, such that she would likely lose capacity during labour; there was a risk to her physical health, in that she could require an urgent Caesarean section ('C-section') for the safe delivery of her baby but might resist."

Hertfordshire CC v K (2020) EWHC 139 (Fam)

Inherent jurisdiction and DOL

"In this matter, the question before the court is whether it should grant a deprivation of liberty order (hereafter a DOL order) under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court in respect of AK, born in 2003 and now aged 16."

London Borough of Tower Hamlets v NB (2019) EWCOP 17

Capacity to consent to sex with husband

"There is also evidence that indicates that NB very much enjoys the status of marriage, is affectionate to her husband [AU] and, on occasion, initiates sexual relations. This appears consistent with Ms Wilson's observations as long ago as 1996. The primary issue before the Court is whether NB truly has the capacity to consent to sexual relations. ... Unfortunately, the case attracted a great deal of media coverage, this notwithstanding that no argument had been heard and no Judgment delivered. A great deal of the comment was sententious and, in some instances, irresponsible. It is considered, by the Official Solicitor and the applicant Local Authority, that the impact of that publicity frightened AU very considerably, leading him to believe that he was likely to be sent to prison. He has left the party's flat and disengaged with these proceedings. ... [Mr Bagchi for the OS] submits it is a 'general' or 'issue-specific' test rather than a partner-specific one. If Mr Bagchi is correct, the difficulty that presents in this case is that there is only one individual with whom it is really contemplated that NB is likely to have a sexual relationship i.e. her husband of 27 years. It seems entirely artificial therefore to be assessing her capacity in general terms when the reality is entirely specific. ... As I said on the last occasion, these issues are integral to the couple's basic human rights. There is a crucial social, ethical and moral principle in focus. It is important that the relevant test is not framed in such a restrictive way that it serves to discriminate against those with disabilities, in particular those with low intelligence or border line capacity. ... Mr Bagchi has accepted that if a person-specific test were applied here then the outcome, in terms of assessment of NB's capacity may be different. ... I do not necessarily consider that the applicable test in the Court of Protection necessarily excludes the 'person specific approach'. I am reserving my Judgment ..."

Manchester City Council Legal Services v LC (2018) EWCOP 30

Sexual exploitation, restrictions where adults have capacity

After a circuit judge endorsed a care plan which led to the repeated sexual exploitation by strangers of a young woman with autism and significant learning disabilities (who had capacity to consent to sexual relations but lacked capacity to make decisions on her contact with men), Hayden J provided guidance that 'where issues arise that may necessitate restrictions in areas where adults have capacity, these should be heard by a High Court Judge in the Court of Protection'.

Mazhar v Lord Chancellor (2017) EWHC 2536 (Fam)

Inherent jurisdiction

"This is a claim brought under sections 6, 7(1)(a), 8(1) and 9(1)(c) of the Human Rights Act 1998 against the Lord Chancellor in respect of a judicial act. The act in question is an order made by a High Court judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, who was the Family Division out of hours applications judge on the late evening of Friday, 22 April 2016. The order was made on the application of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. It was an urgent, without notice, out of hours application made in respect of the claimant, Mr Aamir Mazhar. ... Mr Mazhar seeks to argue that the inherent jurisdiction cannot be used to detain a person who is not of unsound mind for the purposes of article 5(1)(e) of the Convention and that a vulnerable person's alleged incapacity as a result of duress or undue influence is not a basis to make orders in that jurisdiction that are other than facilitative of the person recovering, retaining or exercising his capacity. His removal and detention were accordingly unlawful and in breach of article 5. He also seeks to argue that his article 6 rights were engaged such that the absence of any challenge by the judge to his capacity and/or the evidence of the NHS Trust and the absence of any opportunity to challenge those matters himself or though his family or representatives before the order was executed was an unfair process. He says that his article 8 right to respect for family and private life was engaged and that the order was neither necessary nor in accordance with the law. ... The consequence is that I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing in the HRA (taken together with either the CPR or the FPR) that provides a power in a court or tribunal to make a declaration against the Crown in respect of a judicial act. Furthermore, the HRA has not modified the constitutional principle of judicial immunity. Likewise, the Crown is not to be held to vicariously liable for the acts of the judiciary with the consequence that the claim for a declaration is not justiciable in the Courts of England and Wales. A claim for damages against the Crown is available to Mr Mazhar for the limited purpose of compensating him for an article 5(5) breach but the forum for such a claim where the judicial act is that of a judge of the High Court cannot be a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction. On the facts of this case, the only court that can consider a damages claim is the Court of Appeal. If Mr Mazhar wants to pursue his challenge to the order of Mostyn J he must do so on appeal."

R v C (2008) EWCA Crim 1155

Capacity to consent to sexual activity

If the complainant consented to sexual activity against her inclination because she was frightened of the defendant, even if her fear was irrational and caused by her mental disorder, it did not follow that she lacked the capacity to choose whether to agree to sexual activity. [Overturned on appeal.]

R v C (2009) UKHL 42

Sexual consent

For the purposes of s30 Sexual Offences Act 2003: (1) lack of capacity to choose can be person or situation specific; (2) an irrational fear arising from mental disorder that prevents the exercise of choice could amount to a lack of capacity to choose; (3) inability to communicate could be as a result of a mental or physical disorder.

Raqeeb v Barts NHS Foundation Trust (2019) EWHC 2531 (Admin)

Withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment - transfer to Italy

This judgment related to: (a) the child's (Tafida's) judicial review of the Trust's decision not to agree to transfer her to an Italian hospital; (b) the Trust's application for a specific issue order under s8 Children Act 1989, and for an inherent jurisdiction declaration, that it was in the child's best interests for life-sustaining treatment to be withdrawn. Both applications were dismissed, with the effect that one of the hospitals had to continue life-sustaining treatment and, there being no justification for interfering with Tafida's right (under Article 56 Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union) to receive treatment in another EU state, it was anticipated that the transfer would take place. The judgment provides guidance on dealing with a request by parents of an EU citizen child for transfer for medical treatment in another Member State.

Re A (Capacity: Social Media and Internet Use: Best Interests) (2019) EWCOP 2

Social media and internet use

"I have reached the clear view that the issue of whether someone has capacity to engage in social media for the purposes of online ‘contact’ is distinct (and should be treated as such) from general consideration of other forms of direct or indirect contact. ... It is my judgment, having considered the submissions and proposals of the parties in this case and in Re B , that the ‘relevant information’ which P needs to be able to understand, retain, and use and weigh, is as follows: (i) Information and images (including videos) which you share on the internet or through social media could be shared more widely, including with people you don’t know , without you knowing or being able to stop it; (ii) It is possible to limit the sharing of personal information or images (and videos) by using ‘privacy and location settings’ on some internet and social media sites; [see paragraph below]; (iii) If you place material or images (including videos) on social media sites which are rude or offensive, or share those images, other people might be upset or offended; [see paragraph below]; (iv) Some people you meet or communicate with (‘talk to’) online, who you don’t otherwise know, may not be who they say they are (‘they may disguise, or lie about, themselves’); someone who calls themselves a ‘friend’ on social media may not be friendly; (v) Some people you meet or communicate with (‘talk to’) on the internet or through social media, who you don’t otherwise know, may pose a risk to you; they may lie to you, or exploit or take advantage of you sexually, financially, emotionally and/or physically; they may want to cause you harm; (vi) If you look at or share extremely rude or offensive images, messages or videos online you may get into trouble with the police, because you may have committed a crime; [see paragraph below]. With regard to the test above, I would like to add the following points to assist in its interpretation and application: ..."

Re AB (Inherent Jurisdiction: Deprivation of Liberty) (2018) EWHC 3103 (Fam)

Inherent jurisdiction authorises DOL during conditional discharge

AB had capacity to consent to the care, support and accommodation arrangements which were provided as part of his conditional discharge but, following the MM case, there was an unlawful deprivation of liberty. The High Court extended the inherent jurisdiction to regularise the position of a capacitous detained mental health patient subject to restrictions as part of his conditional discharge which satisfied the objective elements of a deprivation of liberty (firstly, it was clear that there was no legislative provision governing this situation in that the Mental Health Act provided no remedy; secondly, it was in the interests of justice; and, thirdly, there were sound and strong public policy justifications). The court order: authorised the deprivation of liberty for 12 months; required the applicant to apply to court if the restrictions increase, and no less than one month before the expiry of the authorisation; and provided for a review on the papers unless a party requests or the court requires an oral hearing.

Re B (Capacity: Social Media: Care and Contact) (2019) EWCOP 3

Social media and sexual relations

"By this judgment, I set out my conclusions in relation to a range of capacity questions on issues relevant to Miss B’s life, including her capacity: (i) To litigate in these proceedings...; (ii) To manage her property and affairs...; (iii) To decide where she resides...; (iv) To decide on her package of care...; (v) To decide with whom she has contact...; (vi) To use the internet and communicate by social media; (specifically, it is agreed that the question is ‘whether Miss B has capacity to make a decision to use social media for the purposes of developing or maintaining connections with others’)...; (vii) To consent to sexual relations... It is clear that the information relevant to the decision in this area includes: (i) the sexual nature and character of the act of sexual intercourse, the mechanics of the act; (ii) the reasonably foreseeable consequences of sexual intercourse, namely pregnancy; (iii) the opportunity to say no; i.e. to choose whether or not to engage in it and the capacity to decide whether to give or withhold consent to sexual intercourse. (iv) that there are health risks involved, particularly the acquisition of sexually transmitted and transmissible infections; (v) that the risks of sexually transmitted infection can be reduced by the taking of precautions such as the use of a condom."

Re M: AB v HT (2018) EWCOP 2

Declaration of non-marriage in English law

"These complex and difficult proceedings in the Court of Protection concern a 37-year-old woman, hereafter referred to as M, who (as I have found, for reasons set out below) at present lacks capacity by virtue of a combination of psychotic illness and acquired brain injury. The parties to the proceedings are the applicant, M's father, hereafter referred to as AB; her aunt, hereafter referred to as HT; the local authority for the area where HT, and currently M, live, namely the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham; and a man hereafter referred to as MS, with whom M went through a religious ceremony of marriage in 2013. A dispute has arisen concerning a number of issues about her past, present and future which has necessitated a lengthy and unusual fact-finding hearing. This judgment sets out my conclusions on the disputed matters of fact, together with an analysis as to her capacity, and orders made following my findings."

Re P (Sexual Relations and Contraception): A Local Authority v P (2018) EWCOP 10

Sex and covert contraception

"This judgment in long-running proceedings involving a vulnerable young woman, hereafter referred to as 'P', addresses difficult issues concerning her sexual relationships and the covert insertion of a contraceptive device. ... I shall address these issues in the following order: (1) Capacity - general principles. (2) P's capacity other than sexual relations. (3) P's capacity to consent to sexual relations. (4) Best interests: general principles. (5) Best interests: contraception. (6) Best interests: covert treatment (6) Best interests: sexual relationships and supervision. (7) Further issues arising from the draft order." ... Given the serious infringement of rights involved in the covert insertion of a contraceptive device, it is in my judgement highly probable that, in most, if not all, cases, professionals faced with a decision whether to take that step will conclude that it is appropriate to apply to the court to facilitate a comprehensive analysis of best interests, with P having the benefit of legal representation and independent expert advice.

Southend-On-Sea Borough Council v Meyers (2019) EWHC 399 (Fam)

Inherent jurisdiction prevents elderly man from living with son

"The essence of his vulnerability is, in fact, his entirely dysfunctional relationship with his son ... Mr Meyers, I am satisfied, is entirely capable of and has the capacity ... for determining where he wishes to reside and with whom. ... I instinctively recoil from intervening in the decision making of a capacitious adult ... Here Mr Meyers' life requires to be protected and I consider that, ultimately, the State has an obligation to do so. Additionally, it is important to recognise that the treatment of Mr Meyers has not merely been neglectful but abusive and corrosive of his dignity. To the extent that the Court's decision encroaches on Mr Meyers' personal autonomy it is, I believe, a justified and proportionate intervention. The preservation of a human life will always weigh heavily when evaluating issues of this kind. ... The objective here ... is that Mr Meyers be prevented from living with his son, either in the bungalow or in alternative accommodation. I do not compel him to reside in any other place or otherwise limit with whom he should live. ... The impact of the Court's intervention is to limit Mr Meyers's accommodation options but it does not deprive of his physical liberty which is the essence of the right guaranteed by Article 5. ... It is also necessary to restrict the extent of Mr Meyers's contact with his son in order to keep him safe. ... To the extent that this interferes with his Article 8 rights it is, again as I have indicated above, a necessary and proportionate intervention. ... The ideal solution here, it seems to me, would be for Mr Meyers to return to his bungalow with a suitable package of support, his son having been excluded from the property."

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