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Drilldown: Cases

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Cases > Subject : Criminal law capacity cases or Deputyship cases or MHT capacity cases or Testamentary capacity cases or Unfitness and insanity 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."

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."

Loake v CPS (2017) EWHC 2855 (Admin)

Insanity

"For the purposes of this appeal we shall assume that the Appellant pursued a course of conduct which objectively amounted to harassment. The real issue is the question whether the defence of insanity is available on a charge of harassment contrary to Section 2(1) of the PFHA given the terms of Section 1(1)(b). ... It follows that we answer 'Yes' to the question posed in the stated case: 'Is the defence of insanity available for a defendant charged with an offence of harassment, contrary to Section 2(1) PFHA?' ... Finally, we add this. Although in this judgment we have held that the M'Naghten Rules apply to the offence of harassment contrary to Section 2 of the PFHA just as they do to all other criminal offences, this should not be regarded as any encouragement to frequent recourse to a plea of insanity. M'Naghten's Case makes clear that every person is presumed to be sane. The burden lies on a defendant to prove on a balance of probabilities that he or she falls within the M'Naghten Rules. The offences in the PFHA generally require a "course of conduct", that is, conduct on more than one occasion (see Section 7). In practice, prosecutions are generally brought in respect of conduct repeated many times over a significant period. We do not anticipate that someone who has engaged in such conduct will readily be able to show that throughout that period they did not know the nature and quality of their act, or that throughout that time they did not know what they were doing was wrong, in the necessary sense. If the defence is to be relied upon, it will require psychiatric evidence of great cogency addressing the specific questions contained in the M'Naghten Rules. In the Crown Court, by Section 1 of the 1991 Act, the special verdict may not be returned except on the evidence of two registered medical practitioners. In the absence of cogent psychiatric evidence about the specific relevant aspects of a defendant's mental state throughout his alleged course of conduct, we would expect magistrates and judges to deal robustly with claimed defences of insanity."

M v Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (2018) UKUT 120 (AAC)

Covert medication and MHT

The tribunal had failed to turn its mind to the extent to which (despite his lack of capacity to conduct proceedings) the patient was capable of participating in proceedings before addressing the test for non-disclosure. The appeal was allowed and the matter remitted to the tribunal to re-make its decision.

NKR v The Thomson Snell And Passmore Trust Corporation Ltd (2019) EWCOP 15

Appointment of property and affairs deputy

"The application before the Court is for the discharge of the appointment of an existing professional property and affairs deputy, and the appointment of another instead. The discharge of the current deputy is agreed but there is an issue as to who should be appointed instead. ... In the matter of Re AS; SH v LC [2012] MHLO 113 (COP), [2013] COPLR 29 at paragraph 22 Senior Judge Lush set out "generally speaking" an order for preference of various candidates for appointment as deputy. A panel deputy is included "as deputy of last resort," after "a professional adviser, such as the family's solicitor or accountant." ... I am not aware of any previous appointments of a barrister as professional deputy (as distinct from a family member who just happens to be a barrister by profession but is appointed on the usual non-remunerated basis of a family member). Not being considered by the Bar Council as 'a legal service', discharge of the functions of deputyship is apparently not subject to the Bar Council's full regulatory force. However, the risk of property and affairs deputyship lies chiefly in misappropriation of funds. It seems to me beyond debate that misappropriation of MBR's funds whilst acting as deputy would count as "behaviour which diminishes trust and confidence" in Ms. Sood individually and her profession generally, and so Ms. Sood's holding of deputyship appointment would be subject to some professional regulation. ... On the information presently available to me, I am willing to accept that Ms. Sood is personally and professionally a suitable person to hold a deputyship appointment. Her appointment is however not the only option before the Court. A panel deputy has also been identified as willing to act ... Taking all matters into consideration, I conclude that it is in the best interests of MBR for Mr. Kambli to be appointed as replacement deputy upon discharge of the appointment of TSPTC."

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."

PBC v JMA (2018) EWCOP 19

Gifts

"PBC is the son of JMA, and was appointed as her sole attorney for property and affairs by a Lasting Power of Attorney ... He seeks the authority of the Court to make from JMA’s estate various gifts together exceeding £7 million. The purpose of such gifting, openly stated from the outset of the application, is to achieve - as long as JMA lives at least a further 3 years - reduction of inheritance tax liabilities. The parties have reached an agreement between themselves. Together, they ask the Court to make orders to give effect to their agreement. The matter was listed for hearing because the Court sought assistance in order to reach a conclusion as to whether or not the terms of that agreement are in the best interests of JMA."

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.

Re ACC (2020) EWCOP 9

Deputies and litigation

This case concerned whether, and in what circumstances, a property and affairs deputy can recover from the protected person’s assets costs which have been or are likely to be incurred in legal proceedings. The applicant deputies from Irwin Mitchell wanted to know when a professional deputy may instruct a legal firm with which it is associated and recover the costs from P. The court gave detailed guidance, including a summary of conclusions in an appendix.

Re AR (2018) EWCOP 8

Deputy - remuneration

"The main reason why this application has been transferred to me is that it raises issues relating to the validity of the orders relied on by Mr Cawthorn to enable him to charge remuneration as a deputy."

SB v South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (2020) UKUT 33 (AAC)

Reviewing appointment of legal representative

The tribunal appointed a representative under Tribunal rule 11(7)(b) and later refused to put on record another representative who stated that he was acting on instructions. (1) The initial appointment was unlawful because Form 6b was deficient: the rubric did not mention the 14-day time limit for challenging a delegated decision under Tribunal rule 4. If it had done then the patient's attempt to have a new representative put on record might not have been made too late to be resolved before the hearing. (2) By basing its refusal to review the appointment purely on the appointed solicitor's objection, the tribunal had abdicated its decision-making responsibility and had not given sufficient weight to the presumption of capacity in the face of new evidence of instruction. (3) The decision of the tribunal panel in not discharging the patient was not flawed in any material respect. (4) Neither of the unlawful decisions were set aside as the patient had since been discharged. (5) No damages were awarded as the Upper Tribunal has no power to do so.

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."

VS v St Andrew's Healthcare (2018) UKUT 250 (AAC)

Capacity to make tribunal application

(1) The capacity that a patient must have in order to make a valid MHT application is that the patient must understand that he is being detained against his wishes and that the First-tier Tribunal is a body that will be able to decide whether he should be released. This is a lower threshold than the capacity to conduct proceedings. (2) (Obiter) a solicitor appointed under rule 11(7)(b) can request to withdraw an application in the best interests of the patient, but on the facts the tribunal had been entitled to give effect to the patient's own desire to come before a tribunal. (3) When a tribunal lacks jurisdiction it should strike out the proceedings but (obiter) if the proceedings were fair then the use of withdrawal rather than strike out is unlikely to be a material error of law.

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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