ALRs Are Go!

Congratulations to the first cohort of accredited legal representatives (ALRs) who have been approved by the Law Society.   You can find details about the Law Society’s Mental Capacity (Welfare) Accreditation Scheme here.

Those who have been awarded the status of ALR can now be appointed directly by the Court of Protection under Rule 3A.  Rule 3A (2) (b) allows the Court to direct that:

“P’s participation should be secured by the appointment of an accredited legal representative to represent P in the proceedings and to discharge such other functions as the court may direct”.

Rule 3 A makes it clear that the court has to give thought in every case to how P should take part in the case. It gives the court a menu of options of which the ALR is one. The factors the court should consider when deciding which of the options to select include:

“(a)the nature and extent of the information before the court;

(b)the issues raised in the case;

(c)whether a matter is contentious; and

(d)whether P has been notified in accordance with the provisions of Part 7 and what, if anything, P has said or done in response to such notification.”

Practice Direction 2A provides some further guidance at paragraphs 9-10:

  1. An accredited legal representative is defined in Rule 6. When such representatives exist one can be appointed whether or not P is joined as a party and this may be of assistance if urgent orders are needed, particularly if they are likely to have an impact on the final orders (e.g. an urgent order relating to residence).
  1. When P lacks capacity to conduct the proceedings and is made a party an accredited legal representative is not intended as a substitute for a litigation friend, but as an alternative in a suitable case (or in the early stages of the case).

No doubt caselaw will develop as to the proper use of ALRs.  So far we are aware of two references to their use in reported cases: HSE v PD [2015] EWCOP 48 (at [35]) and Re JM [2016] EWCOP 15 (at [30]).  In both cases, the court was concerned with the potential use of ALRs in cases where P has not been joined as a party.

However the appointment of an ALR is also as we have seen a possible alternative to a litigation friend in an appropriate case.  There seems no reason why an ALR should not be proactive in, for example, a Section 21A application where a solicitor who is a member of the ALR scheme has been approached either by P or an RPR.   In such a case the solicitor  may consider filing a witness statement confirming their accreditation, describing their interaction with P and explaining why this could be a suitable case for P to participate through the appointment of an ALR rather than via a litigation friend.  Our precedent for a first directions order in a section 21A includes provision for the appointment of an ALR.

 

Cardiff Research on Welfare Cases in the COP.

Once again we are all indebted to Cardiff Law School for further research about the use of the Court of Protection in welfare cases.   Their full report can be found here, and the executive summary here.

We hope you will find time to read the report but set out below the authors’ key findings:

  • Unlike its predecessor jurisdiction in the Family Division of the High Court, the work of the CoP leans more strongly towards social welfare questions such as where a person lives and how they are cared for than medical treatment. Local authorities are now the main users of the CoP’s welfare jurisdiction – they are involved more frequently in CoP litigation than NHS organisations.
  • Cases about relationships – who a person has contact with, and whether they have the mental capacity to consent to sex or marriage – are among the most complex in the CoP’s jurisdiction.  They typically involve more parties and hearings, take longer and cost more than other kinds of case.
  • We estimate that a typical welfare case in the CoP can cost local authorities around £13,000, but found examples of cases costing considerably more than this. The cost to public authorities of welfare litigation in the CoP may have a chilling effect on their willingness to refer disputes to court where appropriate. For P and families who do not qualify for legal aid, the cost of litigation may be a major barrier to accessing justice.
  • We found little evidence that P or families were using the CoP’s main personal welfare jurisdiction to challenge decisions made under the MCA; in our sample it served primarily as a vehicle for public bodies to seek authorisation for best interests decisions. However, the procedure for asking the court to review a deprivation of liberty safeguards authorisation provided a vehicle for P and others to challenge assessments that they lacked mental capacity, or best interests decisions, about a wide range of matters including: disputes about serious medical treatment, contact with friends or family, and consent to sex or marriage. We raise concerns that recent rulings by the Court of Appeal may close down the only realistically available route into the CoP’s welfare jurisdiction for these fundamental human rights matters.
  • We found few indications that P was routinely participating in CoP welfare proceedings. We hope that following the introduction of new rules on participation this picture has changed since our research took place.

The Court of Appeal and the limits of s21A

The Court of Appeal has upheld the appeal by the Director of Legal Aid Casework against the decision of Charles J that an application for the Court of Protection to determine whether life-sustaining treatment was in the best interests of Paul Briggs was properly made under s21A MCA 2005.

You can read the judgment here. The findings as to the scope of s21A will be of importance as will the comments about when an application to the court is required in relation to life-sustaining treatment.

Two applications were befor Charles J: one brought by the NHS Trust providing treatment for Mr Brigss in order to resolve whether such treatment was in his best interests; the other by Mrs Briggs, as her husband’s RPR, under s21A MCA. As the Court of Appeal noted Mrs Briggs made it clear from the start that the reason for using s21A as a vehicle was because this would allow her access to non-means tested legal aid. Without this she would have been unable to secure representation or marshall the evidence which she and Mr Briggs’ family and friends were able to provide and which was determinative in satisfying Charles J that Mr Briggs, if capacitous, would not have wanted treatment to continue.

The Court of Appeal noted the breadth of s21A which allows the court to determine “any question relating to

a) whether the relevant person meets one or more of the qualifying requirements;

(b) the period during which the standard authorisation is to be in force;

(c) the purpose for which the standard authorisation is given;

(d) the conditions subject to which the standard authorisation is given.”

However having regard to the context of s21A and the guides to its construction through the explanatory notes Lady Justice King held:

“88. In my judgment, regardless of whether the amendments to the Act went beyond that which was absolutely necessary in order to fill the Bournewood Gap, I am entirely satisfied that the provisions were not intended to, and do not, provide a duplicate route by which personal welfare decisions and in particular medical treatment decisions, can be made in circumstances where the deprivation of liberty itself is not the real or essential issue before the court.

89. In my judgment therefore, when considered against the structure of the Act together with the Code of Practice and Explanatory notes, Section 21A relates to decisions about the deprivation of liberty and not, as suggested by the judge, to the circumstances which lead up to the deprivation of liberty. Sch. 1A para.16 to my mind is clear that each of the conditions which have to be satisfied relate directly to whether it is necessary, proportionate and in the best interests of P to be detained.

90. It is important also to remember that ‘best interests’ is not a concept in the abstract. Anchored to the principle of ‘best interests’ found in section 1 MCA, is the fact that every decision made in relation to an incapacitated person under the MCA (whether deprived of their liberty or not) will be made through the prism of their best interests. The Act is decision specific – in the same way that the ‘functional test’ found at section 3 of the Act requires the determination of whether a person is unable to make a particular decision, (with the result that it is recognised that a person may have the capacity to make some decisions and not others). It follows that a consideration of what is in a person’s best interests in relation to any aspect of the Act must be considered in relation to the specific decision to be made.

91. Schedule A1 para. 16 sets out the best interests requirement where a person is, or is about to be, a detained resident. The three further conditions to be met, (as already identified) are that:

(3) . . . it is in the best interests of the relevant person for him to be detained

(4) . . . In order to prevent harm to the person, it is necessary for him to be a detained resident

(5) It is a proportionate response . . . for him to be a detained resident. 

(My emphasis)

In my judgment, para.16 is clearly geared to a particular decision namely whether it is in the best interests of P to be a detained resident. This decision specific application of the best interests principle dovetails with the DOLS Code of Practice which says that:

“….it is not the best interests assessor’s role to specify conditions that do not directly relate to the issue of deprivation of liberty”

And

“A deprivation of liberty authorisation – whether urgent or standard – relates solely to the issue of deprivation of liberty”

92. In my judgment, a question in relation to serious medical treatment is not fundamentally a question in relation to deprivation of liberty. The issue before the court, as was accepted by the judge, was whether P should or should not be given certain medical treatment. It may be that following the making of such a decision there will be implications in relation to P’s liberty as was recognised by the judge. For example: there may have to be a deprivation of liberty to prevent a woman from leaving the labour ward in circumstances where she lacks capacity and refuses a caesarean section which is clinically indicated and in her best interests. In my view, in such circumstances, the deprivation of liberty is secondary. The real question is whether it is in her best interests to have the surgery, whether or not it is in her best interests to be deprived of her liberty is then determined against the backdrop of the decision in relation to the proposed serious medical treatment. In my judgment that makes the appropriate application an application made under s.15 – s.17 MCA and not an application under s21A.”

King LJ rejected – perhaps unsurprisingly – the submission of the Legal Aid Agency that s21A should be constructed narrowly and that all that is required for the purpose of schedule A1 is for the assessors to be satisfied that there is a care plan and a needs assessment in place. She made the following important comment:

” 93. Having said that, in my judgment. Mr Nicholls has sought to place too narrow a scope on Sch. A1. There are many issues which relate to a deprivation of liberty which need appropriately to be considered by the assessor and which may be reflected in recommendations for conditions in the assessor’s report and which may even be determinative of whether a standard authorisation is made.

94.Where a dispute is referred to the court under s.21A, the issue is often in relation to P and the family’s wish for P to go home, set against the assessor’s view that it is in P’s best interests to be placed in a care home and consequently deprived of his or her liberty. Miss Richards has helpfully provided the court with a table of cases where applications have appropriately been made under s.21A; on closer examination, each of them has involved a dispute as to whether P should reside in some form of care home or return to either his home or to live with a family member in the community. Such cases are focused specifically on the issue as to whether P should be detained and are properly brought under s21A. Proper consideration of those cases by the assessor in compliance with the guidance in the DOLS Code, requires far more of an extensive consideration of the relevant circumstances than that which is suggested by Mr Nicholls, namely simply ensuring a care plan and needs assessment is in place without further consideration as to the content.

95.Contact, for example, is an issue capable of going to the heart of whether being detained is in a person’s best interests; it may be that in an ideal world P’s best interests would be served by a deprivation of liberty in the form of her living in a care home properly looked after, where the appropriate medication regime will be adhered to and P will have a proper balanced diet. Desirable as that may be, and such a regime may well provide the optimum care outcome for P, but it may also be the case that unless, regular contact can be facilitated to a particular family member, the distress and confusion caused to P would be such that it would be no longer in her best interests to be detained, and that what might amount to sub optimum physical care would ultimately be preferable to no, or insufficient contact. The weighing up of such options are part of the best interests assessment process in relation to which the professionals who are eligible to be assessors are peculiarly qualified to conduct.”

In Mr Briggs’ case therefore

“99……there was no live issue for determination under s.21A in relation to the deprivation of liberty, there was however a ‘life and death’ personal welfare issue to be decided under ss.15-17 of the Act.

 

King LJ went on the say that following Ferreira v HM Senior Coroner for Inner South London and Others [2017] EWCA Civ 31

108. The proper approach to a case where the central issue is medical treatment (serious or otherwise) following Ferreirais therefore as follows:

i) If the medical treatment proposed is not in dispute, then, regardless of whether it involves the withdrawal of treatment from a person who is minimally conscious or in a persistent vegetative state, it is a decision as to what treatment is in P’s best interests and can be taken by the treating doctors who then have immunity pursuant to section 5 MCA

ii) If there is a dispute in relation to medical treatment of an incapacitated person, and, specifically, where there is a doubt as to whether CANH should be withdrawn, then the matter should be referred to the court for a personal welfare determination under sections 15-17 MCA.

iii) Where, as a consequence of receiving life saving treatment, P is unable to leave hospital, that is not a deprivation of liberty which falls foul of Article 5(1). A standard authorisation is not therefore required and any application in relation to treatment will properly be made under s.16 MCA.

iv) If, as a consequence of ensuring that P receives the treatment that is in his or her best interests, P will become subjected to a deprivation of liberty of a type that falls within Article 5(1), then there must be authorisation for that deprivation of liberty:

a) If already in hospital or in care. under Schedule A1 (or S4A(5)): or

b) Pursuant to a court order under section 4A(3) MCA.

v) The Sch. A1 decision will be made pursuant to para. 16 on the basis that the proposed deprivation of liberty is in P’s best interests, necessary and proportionate; conditions of the type envisaged by the DOLS Code of Practice can be recommended if necessary.

“vi) If there is a disagreement as to whether there should be a standard authorisation, or in relation to the conditions attached to such an authorisation, then the matter can be brought to by way of an application under s.21A to determine any question relating to the authorisation and to make any appropriate order varying or terminating the authorisation. Clinical issues in relation to treatment will remain in the hands of the treating physicians.”

 

Earlier in her judgment King LJ had commented that PD 9E appears to be in conflict with the Code of Practice in requiring all cases concerning the withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration from a person in a persistent vegetative state or a minimally conscious state. The passage above is consistent with her comment that the Code should take precedence.

 

Leveson LJ added

“114. It is not for the court to identify how legal aid funds should be distributed but it may be appropriate to underline the difficulties that families such as the family in this case must face, addressing difficult issues at acutely traumatic times in their lives. If agreement between the authorities and the family is possible, litigation will not be necessary but, if there is disagreement, the resulting issues are likely to be complex both as to the facts and the law. Assuming that the merits of any particular proceedings can be demonstrated, consideration should be given to the public interest justification of adding financial pressures to the many others that the affected families face.”

There is much to consider in this judgment  It is not known whether many other medical treatment cases have been brought under s21A since Charles’ judgment. The prime reason for using the mechanism of s21A in Mr Briggs’ case was that it was the only way of ensuring that his family were able to participate fully in the application.

 

It is important that the Court’s recognition that the best interests assessment for DOLS may engage a range of issues is reflected both in DOLS decision-making and in legal aid funding decisions.

 

Once again this highlights the unsatisfactory result of the restrictions on non-means tested legal aid (Civil Legal Aid (Financial Resources and Payment for Services) Regulations 2013/480, Regulation 5). Some patients in hospital lacking capacity to make critical decisions will have access to non-means tested legal aid: others will not. Equally a person lacking capacity deprived of his liberty in a care home under DOLS will have access to non-means tested legal aid: but if the care home re-registers as a supported living placement delivering the same care package, the resident will need to satisfy a means test.   Parents who face care proceedings in relation to a child with learning disabilities would receive non-means tested legal aid: but would have to satisfy a means test to get legal aid to resist an application by the same statutory body to remove the same child once he or she is over 16 and lacks capacity for the purpose of the MCA. Amongst other matters this case illustrates the misery and potential injustice caused by such anomalies.

Damages for false imprisonment: an example from immigration detention

Court of Protection practitioners may be interested in the successful challenge by Godwin Chaparadza to actions by the SSHD including, materially for our purposes although only one aspect of his successful claim, much of which is outside the scope of this post, challenges to the lawfulness of his detention between 11 April 2014 and 20 June 2014.

Mr Chaparadza had entered the UK as a student in 2004 and applied for his leave to be varied outside the immigration rules in 2011.  This had the effect of extending his leave to remain pending the decision on that application and any appeal.  The Home Secretary refused the application but did not notify Mr Chaparadza.  When in 2013 he was arrested for driving without insurance and obstruction, he was treated as an overstayer; he applied for asylum and was rejected and after he exhausted his rights to appeal he was detained while reporting in April 2014.   The Home Secretary refused to treat his further submissions as a fresh claim and he sought judicial review of, amongst other matters, the failure to comply with the notice requirement of the 2011 decision and the lawfulness of his detention.

In (very brief) summary the court found that the failure to notify Mr Chaparadza of the refusal of his application in 2011 meant that the refusal itself was of no effect: this triggered the extension of his leave and therefore there was no basis to detain him in April 2014.   The detention was, therefore, unlawful.  The Home Secretary argued that this was a technical error: the judge disagreed.  Reviewing the scope of damages for unlawful detention he awarded Mr Chaparadza £3,500 for the first 3 days on the basis of what he accepted was the shock of being detained and £7,000 for the remainder of the two month period, on the basis that Mr Chaparadza suffered no lasting harm.

In many cases where unlawful detention of P comes to light it will not be possible to demonstrate the tort of false imprisonment which involves is “the unlawful imposition of constraint on another’s freedom of movement from a particular place” (Collins v Wilcock [1984] 1 W.L.R. 1172 at 1178.)  However for those cases where this can be shown there is much to learn from the awards of damages in other jurisdictions.

HRA Time Limits Alert

COP practitioners need to be aware of the implications of a refusal by King J of an application to extend the one year time limit in AP v Tameside MBC [2017] EWHC 65 (QB).  You can read the judgment here.

The claim arose from a familiar pattern of events for COP practitioners: AP had learning disabilities as a result of Down’s syndrome; he lacked capacity to make decisions as to his residence and care as well as to litigate.  He was cared from by his mother until 2011 when he was removed by the local authority and placed in respite accommodation for two and a half years until he returned home in August 2013. In the meantime his mother had been acquitted of an offence of wilful neglect in relation to another family member.  The respite placement was not a registered care home so DOLS could not be used: nor was an application to the Court of Protection made at any time despite an IMCA suggesting this to the local authority in 2011.

AP was represented (via his family) by solicitors from 2012: a claim for damages under the HRA was issued in 2016.

The court had to decide whether it was ‘`equitable having regard to all the circumstances” to allow an extension under s7(5)(b) HRA 1998.

AP argued that although his lack of capacity did not displace the limitation, it should create a “rebuttable presumption” in favour of an extension. In addition to relying on some delays caused by –for example- problems in securing funding, the claimant argued that the defendant had been on notice of the potential claim at least since the release of the independent social worker’s report.

The local authority argued that the claimant had been represented by specialist solicitors since 2012 and could have brought the claim years ago.

The judge concluded:

  1. there is no predetermined list of relevant factors in relation to s 7(5) although proportionality will generally be given weight;
  2. lack of capacity does not “carve out” a rebuttable presumption, although it is a factor to be taken into consideration- here the claimant had family members and specialist solicitors looking after his interests, reducing the weight to be given to this factor;
  • the court’s assessment of the merits and value of the underlying claim is a relevant factor.

 

King J refused to grant the limitation because:

  1. the delay had been considerable
  2. the claimant had been consistently represented since 2011 firstly by the IMCA, then his family, and since 2012 by specialist solicitors. It was “inexplicable” that they had not taken steps to protect his position.
  3. there was a real risk of unfairness and prejudice to the local authority in allowing the claim to proceed – it would be a huge administrative burden
  4. the claimant would suffer prejudice if he could not pursue his claim but this did not equate to injustice.

 

This claim was brought in the QBD but the principles governing extension under s7 (5) HRA will also apply in cases where the claim is brought in the COP.  It is quite common for a COP practitioner to become aware of a convention violation which may have taken place some time before COP proceedings are brought:  for example P may have been placed in a care home in circumstances where the decision-making is very unclear; there may then be a period where P is de facto detained without an authorisation; once one is granted there may be sometime before a s21A challenge is initiated.  In cases where the  violation can be seen to have been brought to an end with the use of DOLS, then the one year time limit will begin to run from the date the violation ceased.  If at the expiry of the one year P was unrepresented because no challenge had been made then clearly this is a factor that would be taken into account (although the fact that an IMCA was instructed was relevant in AP’s case).  However a litigation friend for P cannot assume that either the COP or the civil courts will take a relaxed attitude to time limits.  Those acting for litigation friends should:

ask themselves at an early stage whether there is any reason to believe that P’s convention rights have been breached;

ensure they diarise the expiry date;

if this has passed, consider asking the COP to grant an extension for a limited period (assuming that it is anticipated that the claim will be brought in the COP), with case management directions;

if it is clear that for some reason it will not be possible to make the application in the COP in time, ask for an extension;

if the intention is to apply outside the COP in the QBD or county court, ensure that a claim is made as soon as possible.

 

 

DOLS reform delayed

The Law Commission has announced today that the next stage in the reform of DOLS – namely the publication of the Commission’s final report and draft legislation- will now be in March 2017, rather than before the end of the year.

In an email to stakeholders, Tim Spencer-Lane, who leads the project wrote:

“The reason for the delay is the complexity of the task of drafting legislation on such an important issue. It is vitally important to get the law right here. Badly drafted, over-complicated law is a big part of the problem with the current DoLS, and we do not want to fall into the same trap again.

We are very aware that the project deadline was brought forward at the request of the Department of Health and for a good reason: there is an urgent need for the system to be improved. We know too that many stakeholders are waiting for our report and draft Bill and will be disappointed with any delay.  For this we apologise.

But we are convinced that it is far more important to deliver a fully completed draft Bill that can deliver effective safeguards to those being deprived of liberty. We are also confident that our  new publication date will not delay the introduction of legislation into Parliament, should the Government wish to do so.   It will be for Government to decide how to take forward the recommendations and draft Bill.”

We will continue to update readers as soon as there is further news.

 

 

No power of arrest available in the Inherent Jurisdiction

Practitioners in the Court of Protection will be interested in the judgment of HHJ Bellamy, sitting as a deputy High Court Judge in the case of FD.  A former ward of court with a mild learning disability and an emotional disorder, FD was the subject on attaining the age of 18 of proceedings firstly in the Court of Protection and subsequently when an expert report concluded her to have capacity in the relevant domains under the Inherent Jurisdiction.  Injunctions were sought against individuals considered to pose a risk to FD, and the court was originally persuaded to add a power of arrest, on the basis that Munby J as he then was had imposed such a power in Re SA.   However the judge later became aware of an older authority, Re G (Wardship:  Power of Arrest [1983] 4 FLR 538, in which the Court of Appeal held that there is no power of arrest available in wardship proceedings.  After hearing argument HHJ Bellamy held that in Re SA Munby J was exercising the power under Part IV Family Law Act 1996 to attach a power of arrest to a non-molestation injunction.  This power is no longer available following amendments in 2007.  HHJ Bellamy therefore concluded that there is no jurisdiction under the Inherent Jurisdiction to attach a power of arrest to an injunction.

 

 

 

 

Transparency Pilot extended

The Pilot has been extended until August 2017.  You can read the relevant PD and draft order here.

The order has been modified somewhat to make it clear that P’s initials should be used.

We will bring further news about this development as it emerges, including – we hope- more about the findings of the Pilot.

Anonymisation: a departure

Hayden J has lifted reporting restrictions and named Mrs N and her daughter, following his seminal judgment that it was not in the best interests of Mrs N, who was in a minimally conscious state, to receive life sustaining treatment.  Mrs N has been named as Susan Rosenbaum and her daughter as Miranda Rosenbaum.  After Ms Rosenbaum died,  her daughter applied to extend the reporting restrictions which had prevented her being named.

Hayden J applied the test set out by Charles J in Re C.  He contrasted the what was described as the prurient reporting in Re C with the reporting in the instant case,which had focussed on the issues rather than titillating gossip.

He noted the argument that an inquest into Ms Rosenbaum’s death would not be held in private.

Carrying out the “balancing act”, Hayden J held:

 

    1. The experience of grief is one unique to the individual, it takes on many forms. I am sure that this family began to grieve for Mrs N some considerable time ago. I am equally confident that their present grief is none the weaker for being in some way already familiar. I have no doubt that having brought this application M, in particular, requires both peace and privacy. I feel bound to say that she falls securely within those individuals contemplated within the Editor’s Code of Practice (see para 19 above). Though there is of course no guarantee against press intrusion, there is no evidence at all of any having occurred in the last few months, as there might have been, notwithstanding the existence of the interim order. Nor does a dispassionate analysis of the facts point to any significant intrusion in the future.
    2. Judges of this Court are not inured to the day to day realities in these cases. I have no doubt that those closest to M and her family, those who matter to the family the most, will have identified Mrs N from the facts of the case. For those beyond that circle, the name of the individual serves only to make her story more real and the issues it raises more acute. Therein lies the public interest. By contrast the introduction of both Mrs N’s and M’s name into the public domain has relatively limited impact on M’s privacy or Article 8 rights more generally. Certainly there is no real evidence to that effect.
    3. In Re Guardian News and Media Limited [2010] UKSC 1[2010] 2 AC 697 Lord Rodger’s addresses this issue in paragraphs which, for obvious reasons, have become well-known:

“63. What’s in a name? “A lot”, the press would answer. This is because stories about particular individuals are simply much more attractive to readers than stories about unidentified people. It is just human nature. And this is why, of course, even when reporting major disasters, journalists usually look for a story about how particular individuals are affected. Writing stories which capture the attention of readers is a matter of reporting technique, and the European Court holds that article 10 protects not only the substance of ideas and information but also the form in which they are conveyed: News Verlags GmbH & Co KG v Austria (2000) 31 EHRR 246, 256, para 39, quoted at para 35 above. More succinctly, Lord Hoffmann observed in Campbell v MGN Ltd [2004] 2 AC 457, 474, para 59, “judges are not newspaper editors.” See also Lord Hope of Craighead in In re British Broadcasting Corpn [2009] 3 WLR 142, 152, para 25. This is not just a matter of deference to editorial independence. The judges are recognising that editors know best how to present material in a way that will interest the readers of their particular publication and so help them to absorb the information. A requirement to report it in some austere, abstract form, devoid of much of its human interest, could well mean that the report would not be read and the information would not be passed on. Ultimately, such an approach could threaten the viability of newspapers and magazines, which can only inform the public if they attract enough readers and make enough money to survive.

64. Lord Steyn put the point succinctly in In re S [2005] 1 AC 593, 608, para 34, when he stressed the importance of bearing in mind that

“from a newspaper’s point of view a report of a sensational trial without revealing the identity of the defendant would be a very much disembodied trial. If the newspapers choose not to contest such an injunction, they are less likely to give prominence to reports of the trial. Certainly, readers will be less interested and editors will act accordingly. Informed debate about criminal justice will suffer.”

Mutatis mutandis, the same applies in the present cases. A report of the proceedings challenging the freezing orders which did not reveal the identities of the appellants would be disembodied. Certainly, readers would be less interested and, realising that, editors would tend to give the report a lower priority. In that way informed debate about freezing orders would suffer.

    1. I am acutely conscious of M’s deep seated wish to preserve her mother’s anonymity in this case, as well of course, as her own. For the reasons I have analysed above I have come to the firm conclusion that the balance here weighs more heavily in favour of freedom of expression. It may well be that Charles J contemplated a situation not dissimilar to that which has arisen here in V when he said (at para 150):

“I also accept that in contrast to many cases covered by the Transparency Pilot, a number of serious medical treatment cases focus on the pros and cons of particular medical treatments and so do not engage wider issues relating to P’s private life or that or P’s family. And it may be that this will lead to a number of injunctions in such cases being limited to P’s lifetime. But, in my view, this should not be a presumption or default position.”

  1. Of course, as has now been analysed in a number of cases in the Court of Protection, evaluating P’s best interests will invariably involve the Judge considering the wider canvas of P’s life, often via the conduit of evidence from family members. Inevitably, that involves an inquiry into the private sphere which will usually engage facets of the rights protected by Article 8. It is unlikely, in my view, that many cases will be confined solely to assessing the advantages or disadvantages of a particular course of treatment without considering some of the circumstances of the individual patient. In this case whilst I have undoubtedly considered features of Mrs N’s life, character and personality, the issue of withdrawal of hydration and nutrition from a patient in MCS is plainly the predominant one. Indeed, I think it can properly be characterised as one of the major issues in contemporary life.
  2. The challenge, in the parallel analysis of the competing rights and interests in play, is that the rights in contemplation are of wholly different complexion. The exercise involves the juxtaposition of the intensely personal (grief, loss, privacy) alongside the conceptual (the public interest, the freedom of the press, the effective dissemination of information, the administration of justice). In a jurisdiction where there is a human, and inevitable pull to the protection of the vulnerable, (this is after all the Court of Protection), it is easy to overlook how some of the wider, abstract concepts also protect society more generally and in doing so embrace the vulnerable.
  3. Mrs N, Susan Rosenbaum as she may now be known and her daughter M, Miranda Rosenbaum, have, whilst unnamed, already gained the respect and sympathy of the vast majority who read about them. The case, brought by Ms Miranda Rosenbaum, has also added significantly to the public knowledge and understanding of issues that any one of us might have to confront. As I have already commented, there are echoes of her mother’s own courage and determination, from that legal action 40 years ago, reverberating through this application. Ms Miranda Rosenbaum has shown enormous strength in bringing this application. I hope that this family will be allowed peace and privacy to heal from their long ordeal.”

Hayden J noted that intrusion by the media on the family’s grief would breach the IPSO Code of Conduct and took the unusual step in his judgment of providing details of IPSO’s website: https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/harassment.html.