Best interests, available options, and case management before the Court of Protection – the Supreme Court pronounces

In N v ACCG [2017] UKSC 22, the Supreme Court has now pronounced definitively upon what the Court of Protection should do where is a dispute between the providers or funders of health or social services for a person lacking the capacity to make the decision for himself as to what services should be provided to him either between the person’s family or, by analogy, by those acting on behalf of the person.

The facts

The appeal arose from the decision taken in 2013 in relation to a young man, MN, with profound disabilities who lacked capacity to make decisions about his care. He was made the subject of a care order when he was 8 years old and placed in residential accommodation. On turning 18, he was moved to an adult residential placement and the clinical commissioning group took over funding for his placement, the local authority remaining involved in the proceedings. MN’s parents accepted that he should live at the placement for the time being, but wished to assist in providing intimate care to MN at the placement, and to have contact with MN at their home.  The CCG did not agree that intimate care should be provided, and was not willing to provide the necessary funding for additional carers to facilitate home contact. At first instance, MN’s parents contended that the court should nevertheless determine MN’s best interests in respect of both matters. The local authority and the CCG submitted that the court was only able to choose between available options.

At first instance, Eleanor King J held that the court should not embark upon a best interests analysis of hypothetical possibilities in relation to home contact and that it would be only in exceptional cases that an argument founded on the Human Rights Act 1998 would require the court to consider options that were not available. Both parents appealed to the Court of Appeal, which upheld Eleanor King’s judgment. Mr N appealed to the Supreme Court, and was supported in his appeal by Mrs N.  The CCG and the Official Solicitor, on behalf of MN, sought to uphold the decision of the Court of Appeal.

The issue

Lady Hale, giving the sole judgment of the Supreme Court, considered that the true issue was not the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection (as it had been put by both Eleanor King J and Sir James Munby P in the Court of Appeal), but rather the approach it should take in light of its limited powers.

The proper approach to the determination of the issue

As she had done in Aintree v James, Lady Hale took matters back to first principles, by reference to the legislative history of the MCA (and, indeed, its pre-history, including – in essence – a potted narrative of the development of the doctrine of necessity and its ultimate codification).   She is, of course, uniquely placed to do so, given her role at the Law Commission in the 1990s in the formulation of what ultimately became the MCA 2005.   For present purposes, the most important points to be drawn from that history are the following:

1. The jurisdiction of the Court of Protection is limited to decisions that a person is unable to take for himself. There is no such thing as a care order for adults and the jurisdiction is not to be equated with the jurisdiction of family courts under the Children Act 1989 or the wardship jurisdiction of the High Court (para 24). By reference to the wording of s.16 MCA 2005, unlike the Children Act 1989 the MCA 2005 does not contemplate the grant of “the full gamut of decision-making power, let alone parental responsibility, over an adult who lacks capacity” (para 27);

2. Lady Hale’s ‘respectful’ agreement (at para 26) with the observations of Sir James Munby P in the Court of Appeal that, unless the desired order clearly falls within the ambit of s.15 (i.e. a declaration as to capacity and/or lawfulness, which may have a narrower ambit than can be made in the High Court), orders are better framed in terms of relief under s.16 MCA 2005. As she noted, an order under s.16(2)(a) simply makes the decision on behalf of the person, with no need to declare that the decision made is in P’s best interests;

3. The fact that s.17 MCA 2005 – giving examples of the powers under s.16 as respects P’s personal welfare – did not extend to such matters as deciding that a named care home must accommodate P or that a person providing healthcare must provide a particular treatment for P was consistent with (1) the original Law Commission report in 1995, which provided that the role of the court it envisaged was to stand in the shoes of the person concerned, but that, if that person had no power under the community care legislation to demand the provision of particular services, then neither could the court on their behalf; (2) the approach then adopted in the Government’s White Paper preceding the then-Mental Incapacity Bill; and (3) the approach laid down by the Supreme Court itself in Aintree v James (paras 29-32); and

4. Courts and people taking decisions on behalf of those who lack capacity to do so have to do so in their best interests, and, following s.4 MCA 2005, a conclusion as to what is in a person’s best interests “is a decision about what would be best for this particular individual, taking into account, so far as practicable, his individual characteristics, likes and dislikes, values and approach to life” (para 34).

How, then, should the court reconcile its duty to decide what is in the best interests of the person with the fact that it only had the power to take a decision that P himself could have taken? As Lady Hale made clear (para 35) this meant that it had to choose between the available options, and its powers were (in this respect) similar to the family court’s powers in relation to children, as the House of Lords had previously explained in Holmes-Moorhouse v Richmond upon Thames Borough Council [2009] UKHL 7.   As Lady Hale outlined (at para 37), service-providing powers and duties – including those under the Care Act 2014 (not relevant in MN’s case, but relevant in many others) – have their own principles and criteria which do not depend upon what is best for the service user, although such would no doubt be a relevant consideration.  She noted, in particular, that whilst decisions on health or social care services may engage the right to respect for private (or family) life under Article 8 ECHR, decisions about the allocation of limited resources may well be justified as necessary in the interests of the economic well-being.

In light of the analysis above, and the limited powers of the court, Lady Hale noted (at para 39) that where a case is brought to court:

What may often follow such an application will be a process of independent investigation, as also happened in this case, coupled with negotiation and sometimes mediation, in which modifications are made to the care plan and areas of dispute are narrowed, again as happened in this case. But it does not follow that the court is obliged to hold a hearing to resolve every dispute where it will serve no useful purpose to do so.”

Lady Hale outlined the extensive case management powers of the Court of Protection, noting (at para 41) that the court was therefore clearly entitled to take the view that no useful purpose would be served by holding a hearing to resolve a particular issue.   She continued:

In reaching such a decision, many factors might be relevant. In a case such as this, for example: the nature of the issues; their importance for MN; the cogency of the parents’ demands; the reasons why the CCG opposed those demands and their cogency; any relevant and indisputable fact in the history; the views of MN’s litigation friend; the consequence of further investigation in terms of costs and court time; the likelihood that it might bring about further modifications to the care plan or consensus between the parties; and generally whether further investigation would serve any useful purpose.”

Lady Hale concluded that, on the facts of the case before Eleanor King J, consideration upon the lines set out immediately above would have led to the conclusion that it was unlikely that investigation would bring about further modifications or consensus and that it would have been disproportionate to devote any more of the court’s scarce resources to resolve matters. As she put it at para 44, this was “a case in which the court did not have power to order the CCG to fund what the parents wanted. Nor did it have power to order the actual care providers to do that which they were unwilling or unable to do. In those circumstances, the court was entitled to conclude that, in the exercise of its case management powers, no useful purpose would be served by continuing the hearing.” Lady Hale accepted that Eleanor King J had not put matters in quite those terms, but that was the substance of what she was doing and she was entitled in the circumstances to do so, such that the appeal fell to be dismissed.

It is important to note, however, that, as Lady Hale emphasised at para 43:

Case management along these lines does not mean that a care provider or funder can pre-empt the court’s proceedings by refusing to contemplate changes to the care plan. The court can always ask itself what useful purpose continuing the proceedings, or taking a particular step in them, will serve but that is for the court, not the parties, to decide.”

Comment

This decision put beyond doubt the limits of both the Court of Protection and, more broadly, what can be done in the name of best interests. As Lady Hale has made so starkly clear, a decision as to what is in the person’s best interests is a choice between available options.  This means in practice, and all too, often a constrained choice where a person is wholly or partially reliant upon public funding to meet their care needs.  However, Lady Hale made clear that the approach that she was setting out was one that had always been intended from the very earliest work of the Law Commission.

Many people may regret this decision as the “hollowing out” of the concept of best interests, as Beverley Clough memorably put it in a post prior to the hearing. Further, some may contend that the result is inconsistent with the CRPD, which had a cameo role in the hearing.  However, for our part, we would suggest that our energies should be devoted more to ensuring that those mechanisms which exist to facilitate the involvement of those with impaired capacity in service provision decisions made for them under the relevant legislation (for instance advocacy under the Care Act) are made meaningful.  This is an area where real supports are required for the exercise of legal capacity under Article 12 CRPD (and also to make real the right to independent living under Article 19).

As regards the role of the Court of Protection, it is now clear beyond peradventure that the court should be in the driving seat as regards the management of cases that come before it, and we hope also that this judgment fortifies the court in taking the robust case management steps set down in the Case Management Pilot. We will certainly not be changing our advice that any person, and in particular any public body, appearing before the court can expect to have their decision-making probed robustly, especially where the consequences of those decisions are such as to remove from the table options which it is clear P would wish to be able to choose.

The Supreme Court did not comment upon whether the Court of Protection is able to hear claims brought under s.7 Human Rights Act 1998; both Eleanor King J and the Court of Appeal had held that, exceptionally, the court is able to consider a claim that a public body is acting unlawfully in the steps that it is taking towards P by reference to the ECHR, and we suggest that the Supreme Court’s silence on this point should be taken as endorsement of this position. We note that this is different to the question of whether the Court of Protection should be able to make declarations and/or damages to reflect a public body’s past actions breach the ECHR – there is no doubt that the court has the jurisdiction to do this, but, as is becoming increasingly clear the approach of the LAA, in particular, would seem to suggest that the much better course of action will normally be to bring separate proceedings in the county or High Courts.

We note, finally, Lady Hale’s observations at para 38 as to the limits of s.5 MCA 2005. It is no little interest in light of the rumbling issue Alex has discussed elsewhere as to when judicial sanction is required before steps can be taken by public authorities that Lady Hale clearly takes an expansive view of s.5.

Section 5 of the 2005 Act gives a general authority, to act in relation to the care or treatment of P, to those caring for him who reasonably believe both that P lacks capacity in relation to the matter and that it will be in P’s best interests for the act to be done. This will usually suffice, unless the decision is so serious that the court itself has said it must be taken to court. But if there is a dispute (or if what is to be done amounts to a deprivation of liberty for which there is no authorisation under the deprivation of liberty safeguards in the 2005 Act) then it may be necessary to bring the case to court, as the authorities did in this case.”

If the Law Commission recommendations are taken forward, then this “general authority” (a phrase which harks very much back to the wording of the original 1995 report) would be significantly constrained in any case involving significant interference with the Article 8 rights of the individual. For our part, though, we consider that the issues at the heart of MN’s case would always require resolution by the court – albeit we would sincerely hope at very much greater speed.

This post was written by Alex Ruck Keene, Sophy Miles and Neil Allen, respectively junior counsel for the Official Solicitor, Mrs N and Mr N before the Supreme Court.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Stress-testing Schedule 3: cross-border placements and the Court of Protection

In Re PA, PB and PC [2015] EWCOP 38, Baker J has conducted a detailed analysis of the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection to recognise and enforce foreign protective measures under Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005.    That Schedule represents the implementation in English law of obligations contained within the 2000 Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults (‘the Convention’) ((which the United Kingdom has ratified in respect of Scotland, but not England).

The background concerns three young Irish individuals with complex mental health needs, all of whom were considered by the Irish Health Services Executive and the Irish High Court to require treatment in England because suitable treatment was not available in the Republic of Ireland.    The Irish High Court made orders under its inherent jurisdiction in relation to each of the individuals providing for their detention, care and treatment at facilities run by St Andrew’s Healthcare.   Whilst each of the individuals were, in principle, detainable under the provisions of the MHA 1983, the Irish High Court considered in each case that they wished to retain jurisdiction over the individuals so as to be able to ensure that the key decisions in relation the care planning for ‘its’ citizens could be made in Ireland, rather than in England.

All three individuals were initially placed in England under arrangements made under Council Regulation 2201/2003 (‘Brussels IIR’), which (inter alia) provides a mechanism for cross-border placements in relation to children (as to which see our comment on the case of HSE Ireland v SF [2012] EWHC 1640 (Fam)).    When they turned 18, however, this mechanism ceased to be effective, and the HSE therefore sought recognition and enforcement of further Irish High Court orders under the provisions of Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005.     Such orders have been sought and made previously, including in the reported case of Re M [2011] EWHC 3590 (COP), but never on a contested basis.    Indeed, in PC’s case, the Court of Protection had already recognised and declared enforceable the initial relevant Irish order in December 2012, and recognised and declared enforceable an order providing for his transfer from one facility run by St Andrew’s to another in early 2015.

Because the cases of PA and PB raised very similar issues (and it was recognised that the same issues of principle were engaged in PC’s case), Baker J listed all three cases to be considered at the same time.   The Official Solicitor acted as Advocate to the Court in all three cases and PA and PB were represented (directly) by solicitors and Counsel (PC was neither represented nor present).   The ‘stress-testing’ that Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005 underwent in consequence was considerable.

In a detailed judgment, Baker J made a number of key findings/observations in relation to Schedule 3, set out in the paragraphs that follow (nb, these re-order slightly the paragraphs of the judgment so as to move from the general to the specific).

Schedule 3 implements, as a matter of domestic law, obligations in respect of the recognition, enforcement and implementation of “protective measures” imposed by a foreign Court regardless of whether that Court is located in a Convention country (paragraph 39).

In consequence, it is not permissible to apply one rule for Convention states and another for non-Convention states.  In other words, the Courts of England and Wales should note automatically adopt a more cautious approach when asked to recognise and enforce an order of a non-Convention state. Each case will turn on its own facts, to which the Court of Protection must apply the provisions of the Schedule, in particular the provisions as to recognition in paragraph 19 including the grounds on which recognition may be refused. Plainly the Courts of England and Wales will have proper regard to the general principles of comity in all cases, although a greater degree of caution may be required when considering orders made by certain countries (paragraph 39).

There is an important difference between the persons who fall within the general jurisdiction of the Court of Protection under the MCA and those in respect of whom protective measures taken by a foreign Court may be recognised and enforced by the Court.   The Court of Protection’s general jurisdiction exists in respect of persons who lack capacity within the meaning of s.2(1) MCA 2005; the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection under Schedule 3 arises in relation to ‘adults’ – defined for those purposes in paragraph 4(1) as a person over 16 who, as a result of an impairment or insufficiency of his personal faculties, cannot protect his interests (and who is not subject to either the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention or Brussels IIR).   The scheme of the Convention, reflected in the Schedule, is to focus on the factual description of the adult rather than any legal test as to capacity.   In each case, the Court must look at the order and judgment of the foreign Court – and if it thinks it necessary to do so, and insofar as it is permissible to do so under paragraph 24, the evidence before the foreign Court – to establish whether the foreign Court has made a finding which is binding or, if not, whether the individual comes within the meaning of “adult” under paragraph 4(1) of Schedule 3 (paragraphs 43-4).

The scheme of the Convention which underpins Schedule 3 is to facilitate the recognition and enforcement of protective measures taken by foreign Courts save in the circumstances set out in paragraphs 19(3) and (4). The measure “is to be recognised” if taken on the grounds that the individual was habitually resident in the country where the order containing the measure was made. The grounds on which a measure may be challenged may be procedural (paragraph 19(3) or substantive (paragraph 19 (4)). By reason of paragraph 21, however, provides that for the purposes of paragraphs 19 and 20 any finding of fact relied on when the measure was taken is conclusive, there is no power to challenge the finding made in the foreign Court that the individual is habitually resident in that country.  Accordingly, a finding of a foreign Court that the individual concerned was habitually resident in that country cannot be challenged in any process to recognise or enforce a measure in this country, although the process by which the measure was ordered may be challenged (for example, if the individual was not given an opportunity to be heard) and the measure itself may be challenged (for example, if inconsistent with a mandatory provision of law of this country) (paragraph 52).

Paragraph 19(3) of Schedule 3 gives the Court a discretionary power to refuse to recognise a protective measure if certain procedural safeguards are not met. It is plain from the way in which Schedule 3 paragraph 19(3) is drafted that the Court only has a discretion to decline to recognise a foreign order if it thinks that the case in which the measure was taken was not urgent and the adult was not given the opportunity to be heard and that omission amounted to a breach of natural justice (‘thinks’ for these purposes meaning ‘concludes on the balance of probabilities) (paragraph 55).

Paragraph 19(4) of Schedule 3 gives the Court a further discretionary power to decline to recognise a measure in a foreign order in certain circumstances spelt out in the sub-paragraph. In contrast to sub-paragraph (3), these grounds upon which an application for recognition may be refused are separate rather than cumulative. Thus, the Court may refuse recognition if it thinks that (a) recognition would be manifestly contrary to public policy; or (b) the measure would be inconsistent with a mandatory provision of the law of England and Wales; or (c) the measure is inconsistent with one subsequently taken or recognised, in England and Wales in relation to the adult.   As Mostyn J had identified in Re M 19(4) (a) and (b) appear to be two sides of the same coin (paragraph 62).

By including Schedule 3 in the MCA, Parliament authorised a system of recognition and enforcement of foreign orders notwithstanding the fact that the approach of the foreign courts and laws to these issues may be different to that of the domestic court. These differences may extend not only to the way in which the individual is treated but also to questions of jurisprudence and capacity. Thus the fact that there are provisions within the Act that appear to conflict with the laws and procedures of the foreign state should not by itself lead to a refusal to recognise or enforce the foreign order. Given that Parliament has included s. 63 and Schedule 3 within the MCA, clearly intending to facilitate recognition and enforcement in such circumstances, it cannot be the case that those other provisions within the Act that seemingly conflict with the laws and procedures of the foreign state are mandatory provisions of the laws of England and Wales so as to justify the English Court refusing to recognise the foreign order on grounds of such inconsistency. In such circumstances, it is only where the Court concludes that recognition of the foreign measure would be manifestly contrary to public policy that the discretionary ground to refuse recognition will arise. Furthermore, in conducting the public policy review, the Court must always bear in mind, in the words of Munby LJ in Re L (A Child) (Recognition of Foreign Order) [2012] EWCA Civ 1157 that “the test is stringent, the bar is … set high.” (paragraph 91).

There is likely to be a wide variety in the decisions made under foreign laws that are put forward for recognition under Schedule 3.  Inevitably there may be concerns about some of the foreign jurisdictions from which orders might come. But as the Ministry of Justice observed in a letter sent to the Court, taking account of such concerns is surely the purpose of the public policy review. Although no wide ranging review as to the merits of the foreign measure is either necessary or appropriate, a limited review will always be required as indicated by the European Court in Pellegrini v Italy (2002) EHRR 2. That will be sufficient to identify any cases where the content and form of the foreign measure, and the processes by which it was taken, are objectionable. The circumstances in which Schedule 3 is likely to be invoked, and the number of countries whose orders are presented for recognition, are likely to be limited. If applications were to be made from countries such as North Korea (which are unlikely, at least in the foreseeable future), the public policy review would surely lead swiftly to identifying grounds on which recognition would be refused. It is much more likely that the orders presented for recognition will be those of foreign countries whose legal systems, laws and procedures are closely aligned to our own. Concerns of this nature can be addressed by admitting evidence of the process by which the foreign protective measures were made and general evidence relating to the legal system of the state that made the order (paragraph 92).

The Court of Protection (being bound to act compatibly with the ECHR as a mandatory provision of the law of England and Wales by its incorporation into the HRA) should on any application for recognition and enforcement conduct a limited review to satisfy itself that foreign orders presented for recognition and enforcement comply with the ECHR.  In so doing, the Court should strive to achieve a combined and harmonious application of the provisions of the ECHR and the Convention (paragraph 96).

By including Schedule 3 in the MCA, Parliament must be assumed to have permitted orders to be recognised that did not comply with other laws and procedures under the statute. As the definition of “adult” in Schedule 3 paragraph 4 plainly extends to persons who may not be incapacitated within the meaning of s.2 MCA 2005, it follows that the Court will be obliged to recognise and enforce orders of a foreign court in terms that could not be included in an order made under the domestic jurisdiction under the MCA. This is subject, however, to its discretion to refuse recognition and enforcement where that would be manifestly contrary to public policy.  Baker J agreed with and endorsed Hedley J’s conclusion in Re MN that a decision to recognise under paragraph 19(1) or to enforce under paragraph 22(2) is not a decision governed by the best interests of the individual so that those paragraphs are not disapplied by paragraph 19(4)(b) and section 1(5) of the Act. Thus it follows that the Court will be obliged to recognise and enforce a measure in a foreign court order even where applying a best interests test it would not be included in an order made under the domestic jurisdiction under the MCA. Again, however, this is subject, however, to its discretion to refuse recognition and enforcement where that would be manifestly contrary to public policy (paragraph 98).

It would not be open to the Court of Protection to refuse recognition and enforcement of a foreign order simply because the individual may have the relevant decision-making capacity and objects to the order being recognised and enforced.  Such an approach would undermine the whole purpose of Schedule 3 (paragraph 101).

Specifically in the context of a foreign order compulsorily placing an individual in a psychiatric hospital in England and Wales for treatment:

  1. The limited review required should encompass the Court being satisfied that (1) the Winterwerp criteria are met and (2) that the individual’s right to challenge the detention under Article 5(4) is effective (i.e. that they have a right to take proceedings to challenge the detention and the right to regular reviews thereafter) (paragraph 96);
  2. (Agreeing with Mostyn J in Re M), an order recognising and enforcing a foreign measure under Schedule 3 is not a welfare order as defined in section 16A(4)(b). The rules as to ineligibility in section 16A therefore do not apply. This means that the Court will be obliged to recognise and enforce orders of a foreign court depriving an individual of his liberty in circumstances in which it would not able to do so under the domestic jurisdiction under the MCA on the grounds that the individual is being treated or is treatable under the MHA as defined in Schedule 1A of the MCA. Once again, however, this is subject, however, to its discretion to refuse recognition and enforcement where that would be manifestly contrary to public policy (paragraph 98);
  3. The “conditions of implementation” provided for in paragraph 12 of Schedule 3 (which are governed by English law), are that the requirements of the ECHR are met, in particular the Winterwerp criteria and reviews of sufficient regularity to satisfy Article 5(4) (paragraph 102);
  4. Most such orders presented for recognition are likely to be of short duration, and/or in respect of persons whose capacity may fluctuate, and/or who are in receipt of a progressive form of treatment. As a result, in such cases there is likely to be repeated requests to scrutinise a succession of orders. Recognition and enforcement is likely to require close co-operation, not only between the medical and social care authorities of the two countries, but also between the Courts and legal systems. The Convention provides a mechanism using the Central Authorities but, pending ratification of the Convention, there may well be the need for direct communication between judges of the two jurisdictions (paragraph 93).

On the facts of the cases before him, Baker J considered that (1) each of the individuals: was an “adult” within the meaning of Schedule 3; (2) that each was habitually resident in the Republic of Ireland; (3) in each case that the individual was given a proper opportunity to be heard for the purposes of paragraph 19(3)(b); (4)  that in each case the individual satisfies the criteria for detention under Article 5(1)(e), namely the Winterwerp criteria; (4) that the orders of the Irish Court demonstrate that each will be afforded a regular right of review of his or her detention so as to comply with the ongoing requirements of Article 5(4); (5) that as a result recognising and enforcing the orders will not contravene the ECHR; (6) that the measures in each case are not inconsistent with any other mandatory provision of the law of England and Wales; and (7) that the measures cannot be said to be manifestly contrary to public policy.  Baker J therefore made orders providing that protective measures in the Irish orders were to be recognised in England and Wales and enforced in this jurisdiction.

Baker J also used the opportunity:

  1. To express the hope that the Court of Protection Rules will in due course be amended to incorporate comprehensive rules to support Schedule 3 as soon as possible, including rules as to allocation of applications under the Schedule.
  2. To provide that, pending the introduction of such rules, any application under Schedule 3 at this stage should be listed for a full High Court Judge in the first instance, and thereafter, all further hearings in connection with that application, and any further applications under the Schedule in respect of the same individual, should be listed before the same judge (if available) unless expressly released by him or her to another judge.
  3. To note that one issue that requires clarification by the ad hoc Rules Committee is whether a litigation friend should be appointed in cases such as those before him.   Baker J expressed the preliminary view that a litigation friend should be appointed to act for individuals who are the subject of applications for recognition and enforcement under Schedule 3 (unless, of course, that individual has capacity to conduct proceedings applying the provisions of the MCA).

Comment

Although these cases are unusual, the analysis by Baker J of Schedule 3 has ramifications going far beyond the context of compulsory placements for psychiatric treatment.   Of particular importance for practitioners are the following points.

First, the confirmation that – as in cases involving children under Brussels and Hague instruments – when we come to consider cross-border cases involving recognition and enforcement of measures taken in relation to adults with impairments, the English courts are operating in a very different sphere to purely domestic cases.    In the context of recognition and enforcement, the Court of Protection:

  1. Will not be applying the test of capacity contained in s.2(1) MCA 2005 (save in considering whether the adult has litigation capacity); and
  2.  Will not be applying the best interests test contained in s.1(5) and s.4 MCA 2005 (save in relation to implementation of the measures). In other words, the Court of Protection, and those appearing before it, has mentally to undertake a very significant gear shift in such cases.   Such a gear shift is one that many family practitioners and judges still find difficult in relation to cross-border cases involving children; it will perhaps be even more difficult in relation to adults where we are still taking baby steps in the identification of common themes and common practices across borders (and where we have yet in England and Wales to ratify the Convention…).

Second, the confirmation that the ability of the Court of Protection to refuse to recognise and declare enforceable foreign protective measures is very limited.

Third, the confirmation that, for purposes of applications for recognition and enforcement, the Court of Protection is effectively bound by the decisions of the foreign court as to the habitual residence of the individual.

Finally, the confirmation that, by passing Schedule 3 in the form that it did, Parliament opened the door to applications for recognition and enforcement to be made from any country in the world, with no ‘filter’ specific to non-Convention countries (save for the limited filter in relation to cross-border placements between Convention countries in paragraphs 19(4) and 26 which will only become relevant when the Convention in ratified in respect of England and Wales).

Cross-border matters are now part of the daily reality of very many practitioners (not least because, for these purposes, Scotland is a foreign country…).    Cases with a cross-border element will, we predict, come before the Court of Protection with ever more frequency.   And, in due course, I anticipate that much the same will be said in relation to the Convention and to such cases as has been said by Sir James Munby P in relation to the earlier Hague Conventions applicable to children and their European counterparts:

They have exposed us, often if only in translation, to what our judicial colleagues in other jurisdictions are doing in a wide range of family cases. They have taught us the sins of insularity. They have taught us that there are other equally effective ways of doing things which once upon a time we assumed could only be done as we were accustomed to doing them. They have taught us that, beneath all the apparent differences in language and legal system, family judges around the world are daily engaged on very much the same task, using very much the same tools and applying the same insights and approaches as those we are familiar with. Most important of all they have taught that we can, as we must, both respect and trust our judicial colleagues abroad.Re E (A Child) [2014] EWHC 6 (Fam)

All this, of course, suggests that everyone should:

  1. Rush out and purchase The International Protection of Adults, the only work which seeks to map out both the Convention and the frameworks for decision-making in relation to those with impairments in core jurisdictions around the world; and
  2. Identify to my co-editors and I any jurisdictions which should be included and volunteer to produce the necessary information for a chapter to be included in the next edition.

Habitual Residence for the purpose of the MCA

In A Local Authority v SW and another, Moylan J considered the question of the habitual residence of SW, a woman who lacked capacity to decide about her residence.  She had moved in 2009 from hospital in Scotland (where she had grown up) to a placement in England, initially under under the terms of the equivalent of a Community Treatment Order.  This lapsed in 2010.   Her care was funded by the Scottish authorities and this would continue whatever the judgment.  Her money was managed in Scotland on her behalf.

The judge concluded that (although SW expressed a dislike of the area where she lived and a wish to move) she was habitually resident in England.  His reasoning is set out below:

“Discussion

    1. Given the close links, in particular between the 2000 Convention and the 1996 Child Protection Convention, as explained in the Lagarde Report; given the relationship between the 2000 Convention and the MCA; and for general policy considerations as referred to by Lady Hale in A v A, it is clear to me that the definition of “habitual residence” under the MCA should be the same as that applied in other family law instruments, including BIIa. Further, BIIa is also closely linked to the 1996 Convention, as explained in Proceedings brought by A.
    2. In my view, it must be right that the approach to the issue of habitual residence under BIIa should be the same as that under the MCA. I have not been directly referred to other judgments from the Court of Justice or domestically which address the issue of habitual residence including those which refer to the test of “centre of interests”. However, this phrase is incorporated in the judgment of Mercredi v Chaffe, as referred to above. Accordingly, whilst, inevitably, different factors will be relevant and will bear differential weight, the overarching approach should be consistent across all international family law instruments, including under the 1996 Child Protection Convention and in respect of children under BIIa. Any other approach would, in my view, be inconsistent with the points made in the Lagarde Report, especially in paragraph 49.
    3. I do not, therefore, accept Mr Rees’s submission that the approach established by the CJEU, as adopted by the Supreme Court, is not applicable. I agree with Mr Harrop-Griffiths that the test should be the same, suitably applied, as that under Brussels IIa as referred to above. If a different approach was to be taken as between adults and children, habitual residence would not even be applied consistently within BIIa. It is plain that different factors, as in any case, will or may have differing degrees of relevance. But, in my view, the overarching test should be the same.
    4. However, I agree with Mr Rees’s submission that the Local Authorities have adopted too narrow a focus when addressing the circumstances of this case. It is clearly important, given its critical place in so many international instruments, that the determination of habitual residence is kept as free as possible from analytical complexities or constructs. It is a question of fact. In my view, the Local Authorities in the present case have focused unduly on whether SW is integrated, in the sense of settled, by reference to whether she is happy living where she has been. Reduced to their key elements they submit that, given SW’s placements in England have to varying extents been determined for her and given she does not like living where she is, SW is not habitually resident in this jurisdiction because she has never become sufficiently integrated.
    5. Although the Supreme Court refers, in both A v A and Re LC, to the test or question as being whether there is some or sufficient degree of integration in a social and family environment, I do not accept that this was intended to narrow the court’s focus to this issue alone as an issue of fact. It is not a free-standing, determinative factor, and in particular not to the exclusion of all other factors. In my view, this would not be consistent with the broad assessment identified as being necessary by the CJEU. As the Court said, in Proceedings brought by A, the national court must conduct an “overall assessment” in the light of the factors referred to in paragraphs 38-41.
    6. In Mercredi v Chaffe the Court of Justice said that the place of habitual residence “must be established, taking account of all the circumstances of fact specific to each individual case” (paragraph 47). These include the conditions and reasons for the stay, its duration, and other factors which make clear that the person’s presence is not in any way temporary or intermittent. Factors which, as Lady Hale said in Re LC (paragraph 59), address whether the residence has acquired “the necessary degree of stability”.
    7. Further, integration, as an issue of fact, can be an emotive and loaded word. It is not difficult to think of examples of an adult who is not integrated at all in a family environment and only tenuously integrated in a social environment but who is undoubtedly habitually resident in the country where they are living. Integration as an issue of fact can also raise difficulties when a court is determining the habitual residence of a person who lacks capacity. As Mr Rees submits, there is a wide range of potential factual situations which will impact on the court’s ability to establish a person’s state of mind or perception and the weight which can properly be given to it.
    8. To repeat what Lady Hale said in A v A, at paragraph 54(vii): “The essentially factual and individual nature of the inquiry should not be glossed with legal concepts which would produce a different result from that which the factual inquiry would produce”. Another way, in my view, of expressing this might be that the court should not lose sight of the wood for the trees. I say this because, standing back for a moment, it might be thought surprising that it might be argued that someone who has been living, largely voluntarily, in England for nearly five years, and for the last three-and-a-half years in their own flat, was not habitually resident here.
    9. I would suggest that the phrase “degree of integration”, as with centre of interests, is an overarching summary or question rather than the sole, or even necessarily the primary, factor in the determination of habitual residence. Otherwise, it would become a legal construct in place of the essential issue which is, of course, that of habitual residence. This is not to say that the degree of integration and a person’s state of mind are not relevant; they are clearly factors to which appropriate weight must be given when the court is undertaking a broad assessment of all the circumstances of the case. The broad assessment which is required properly to determine whether the quality of residence is such that it has become habitual in that it has the necessary degree of stability in order to distinguish it from mere presence or temporary or intermittent residence. This means a sufficient, or some, degree of integration, not, I suggest, as a limited factual assessment, but as a question to be answered by reference to the factors, suitably applied, referred to by the CJEU and the Supreme Court.

Determination

  1. Turning then to the circumstances of the present case. As SW has been living in England since July 2009 and has been living in her own flat since December 2010, in my view there would need to be some compelling countervailing factors in order for me to determine that she is not habitually resident in England.
  2. I accept that SW’s move to England was pursuant to a compulsory treatment order and that, since then, her place of residence, while seeking to meet her wishes as much as possible, has very largely been governed by the relevant authority’s decision as to what would suitable and by what has been available. I also accept that SW has expressed her dislike of the area in which she lives and her wish to move somewhere else. However, I do not consider that these factors come close to counterbalancing the effect of SW’s long residence in England especially when combined with the matters referred to by Mr Rees (paragraph 61 above).
  3. By virtue of its duration, SW’s residence has, in my view, acquired what might be termed effective “stability”, in the sense used by the Court of Justice. Many people would rather not be living where they are and might wish fervently to live somewhere else. However, at least after a person has been living in one place for a significant period of time it will be difficult not to come to the conclusion that they are sufficiently integrated into their environment, whatever its composition, for them to be habitually resident there. In the present case, any other conclusion would, in my view, be placing far too much weight on an assessment on SW’s state of mind and the extent to which she feels settled. Accordingly, in my judgment SW is habitually resident in this jurisdiction for the purposes of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Good practice in habitual residence cases

Sir James Munby P, sitting in the Court of Appeal, in Re F (A Child) [2014] EWCA Civ 789, has set out some basic propositions that apply in relation to the determination of habitual residence in cases involving children.   Whilst they were stated in the context of the application of Council Regulation 2201/2203 (known as Brussels II revised (BIIR)), they are of wider application and it suggested that (with one exception highlighted below) the core procedural aspects apply equally to the determination of habitual residence by the Court of Protection:

11.

[…]

i)                Where BIIR applies, the courts of England and Wales do not have jurisdiction merely because the child is present within England and Wales. The basic principle, set out in Article 8(1), is that jurisdiction under BIIR is dependent upon habitual residence. It is well established by both European and domestic case-law that BIIR applies to care proceedings. It follows that the courts of England and Wales do not have jurisdiction to make a care order merely because the child is present within England and Wales. The starting point in every such case where there is a foreign dimension is, therefore, an inquiry as to where the child is habitually resident.

ii)              […]

iii)             Jurisdiction under Article 8(1) depends upon where the child is habitually resident ‘at the time the court is seised.’ [note, in cases under Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005, jurisdiction under the MCA 2005 depends upon where the individual is habitually resident at the point when the court determines the question of habitual residence: Re PO; JO v GO [2013] EWHC 3932 (COP) at paragraph 21]

 iv)             Since the point goes to jurisdiction it is imperative that the issue is addressed at the outset. In every care case with a foreign dimension jurisdiction must be considered at the earliest opportunity, that is, when the proceedings are issued and at the Case Management Hearing: see Nottingham City Council v LM and others [2014] EWCA Civ 152, paras 47, 58.

v)         Good practice requires that in every care case with a foreign dimension the court sets out explicitly, both in its judgment and in its order, the basis upon which, in accordance with the relevant provisions of BIIR, it has either accepted or rejected jurisdiction. This is necessary to demonstrate that the court has actually addressed the issue and to identify, so there is no room for argument, the precise basis upon which the court has proceeded: see Re E, paras 35, 36.

vi)        Judges must be astute to raise the issue of jurisdiction even if it has been overlooked by the parties: Re E, para 36.

There is a further point to which it is convenient to draw attention. If it is, as it is, imperative that the issue of jurisdiction is addressed at the outset of the proceedings, it is also imperative that it is dealt with in a procedurally appropriate manner:

i)       The form of the order is important. While it is now possible to make an interim declaration, a declaration made on a ‘without notice’ application is valueless, potentially misleading and should accordingly never be granted: see St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust v S, R v Collins and Others ex p S [1999] Fam 26. If it is necessary to address the issue before there has been time for proper investigation and determination, the order should contain a recital along the lines of ‘Upon it provisionally appearing that the child is habitually resident …’ Once the matter has been finally determined the order can contain either a declaration (‘It is declared that …’) or a recital (‘Upon the court being satisfied that …’) as to the child’s habitual residence.

ii)      The court cannot come to any final determination as to habitual residence until a proper opportunity has been given to all relevant parties to adduce evidence and make submissions. If they choose not to avail themselves of the opportunity then that, of course, is a matter for them, though it is important to bear in mind that a declaration cannot be made by default, concession or agreement, but only if the court is satisfied by evidence: see Wallersteiner v Moir [1974] 1 WLR 991.

[A version of this note appeared in the July 2014 Thirty Nine Essex Street Mental Capacity Law Newsletter]