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Helen Curtis

Year of Call: 1992

"Totally devoted to this area and such a skilled advocate."

Chambers UK, 2021 (Court of Protection)

"Attention to detail, calmness under pressure, articulate, commanding presence."

Legal 500, 2021 (Court of Protection & Community Care)

"A very effective cross-examiner. She's very calm, thorough and good with difficult clients. She is invaluable when you have a messy case which needs untangling. She works very collaboratively and clients appreciate her sympathetic but firm approach."

Chambers UK, 2020

"She's very responsive and experienced in the crossover between mental capacity and mental health law."

Chambers UK, 2019

"She's very proactive and always has a good understanding of the case; she's used to working with urgent cases, so I find her proactive style helpful."

Chambers UK, 2018

Contact

If you would like to get in touch with Helen please contact the clerking team:

You can also contact Helen directly: +44 (0)20 7993 7713

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Legal 500 2022: Leading Junior

Helen Curtis' legal practice concentrates on areas where the liberty of the subject is at stake, particularly in areas of mental health, prisoners and the Court of Protection. She appears before Tribunals, Parole Boards and courts through to the Court of Appeal. Helen is an approved mediator on the Court of Protection Mediation Panel.

Helen currently writes for the Garden Court Chambers Social Welfare Updates and Mediation Blog.

Court of Protection

Overview

Helen is regularly instructed to represent P or a family member in Court of Protection proceedings in matters of health and welfare or property and affairs. Instructions are via the litigation friends of Official Solicitor, Relevant Person's Representative (Paid or unpaid) and Accredited Legal Representatives.

A feature of Helen’s practice is judicial review of decisions that impact on a person’s mental health or the quality of life for P and appeals.

Notable Cases

London Borough of Redbridge v G & others [2014] EWCOP 17
In this fact-finding case, Helen appeared on behalf of AC who, with her partner FC, was caring for G at G’s home and living there. The local authority argued that it was in G’s best interests to remain at home with a package of care and that AC and FC ought to be removed. A schedule of facts alleged that AC and FC benefited commercially from caring for G and also bullied and manipulated her. Given that G expressed her wish for AC and FC to remain as her carers, the facts alleged by the local authority had to be determined before the court reached a best interests decision.

The Health Service Executive of Ireland v PA & Ors [2015] EWCOP 38
This case involved the consideration of the court’s power to recognise and enforce a foreign order made in the High Court in Ireland in respect of a young adult in a psychiatric hospital in England. Helen appeared on behalf of PA who had been in an English hospital for more than three years and wanted to return home. The court explored the scope and interpretation of its powers under Schedule 3 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Rotherham, Doncaster & South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDASH), (2) NHS Barnsley CCG v C (by his litigation friend, TG), Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (24 March 2021) 
Helen was instructed by TG to represent the patient, C, in this case before Theis J where C was a restricted patient. The First-tier Tribunal had considered whether it could conditionally discharge C to a residential placement but C’s Responsible Clinician assessed C as lacking mental capacity to choose where to live and C could not consent to a deprivation of liberty. The matter was listed before the Court of Protection as initially, the Council contended that C did not lack capacity and this needed urgent resolution prior to C’s forthcoming FtT.

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Mediation

Helen is an accredited mediator and restorative justice facilitator whose mediation skills are incorporated into her legal practice. Her calm, compassionate manner makes her an engaging, effective mediator and advocate. This is particularly appreciated when dealing with vulnerable clients and sensitive issues which frequently arise in her practice.

Helen completed training on the use of Zoom, specifically for mediation and now mediates multi-party disputes on Zoom. She arranges technical checks in advance to ensure the parties are comfortable with the technology.

Further details can be found on the Garden Court Chambers Mediation website.

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Mental Health Law

Overview

Helen's mental health work covers restricted patients whether being transferred between hospital and prison or seeking discharge as well as patients detained under ss 2 and 3. Additionally, Helen represents patients or their Nearest Relative in proceedings where displacement of the Nearest Relative is sought.

Notable Cases

TW v London Borough of Enfield [2014] EWCA Civ 362
Helen appeared on behalf of the Appellant who challenged the High Court's refusal of s.139(2) leave to bring civil proceedings. The Court of Appeal granted leave and considered what is practicable for an AMHP to comply with the s.11(4) duty to consult the patient's Nearest Relative.

Health Service Executive of Ireland v PA and others [2015] EWCOP 38; [2015] WLR (D) 243
Helen appeared on behalf of PA in a case concerning Schedule 3 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Another v The Hospital Managers of St George's Hospital and AU [2016] EWHC 1196 (Admin)
Helen appeared on behalf of the patient AU who sought to resist the Trust's review of the Hospital Manager's discharge decision.

DA v Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust [2021] UKUT 1010 (AAC)
Helen represented DA in his successful appeal from the First-tier Tribunal’s decision not to absolutely discharge him but to remove all conditions of his conditional discharge. The Upper Tribunal found the reasons for this decision failed to meet the legal standard of adequacy.

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Notable Cases & News

All related news

Social Welfare Updates

Capacity to decide to engage in sexual relations – application for a prospective declaration of incapacity rejected

Blog post by Helen Curtis of the Garden Court Chambers Court of Protection Team. A Local Authority v A Mother and A Father and DY [2021] EWCOP 28 (Knowles J) 10 May 2021

1 July 2021

Social Welfare Update: Damages of £143,000 for unlawful deprivation of liberty of incapacitous care home resident upheld

London Borough of Haringey v Emile [2020] County Court at Central London, 18 December 2020, HHJ Saggerson

26 February 2021

Social Welfare Update: Contact for those in care homes – the need for an individualised and proactive approach

Blog by Helen Curtis of the Garden Court Chambers Court of Protection Team. Davies v Wigan Council & Anor [2020] EWCOP 60

23 December 2020

Social Welfare Update: Mental Health Act 1983 conditional discharge and authorisation of deprivation of liberty under MCA 2005 Sch. A1 - whose decision is it anyway?

Blog by Helen Curtis of the Garden Court Chambers Mental Health Law Team. MC v Cygnet Behavioural Health Ltd and The Secretary of State for Justice [2020] UKUT 230 (AAC)

18 December 2020

Social Welfare Update: Fitting an intrauterine contraceptive device was the least restrictive option to protect AB, a woman with a moderate learning disability

An NHS Foundation Trust v (1) AB (by her litigation friend, the Official Solicitor) (2) CD (3) A Local Authority [2019] EWCOP 45, MacDonald J, 21 October 2019.

13 December 2019

"Places of safety" under the Mental Health Act 1983 - new regulations

Changes to the powers under ss 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 are being brought in by ss 80–83 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 with effect from 11 December 2017.

15 November 2017

Continuation of life-sustaining treatment not in Mrs P’s best interests – ascertaining what the patient would have wanted

Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust v (1) Mrs P (by her litigation friend, the OS) (2) Q [2017] EWCOP 23

10 November 2017

Deprivation of liberty and Community Treatment Orders (CTOs): MM and PJ decided

SSJ v MM; Welsh Ministers v PJ [2017] EWCA Civ 194, [2017] MHLO 16, 29 March 2017. A Community Treatment Order can be a statutory alternative to compulsory detention even though it amounts to an objective deprivation of liberty, but a capacitous patie

25 May 2017

When gaps don’t breach Convention rights

R (OK) v FTT [2017] UKUT 22 (AAC), MHLO 3, 12 January 2017 Application signed by solicitor on behalf of patient lacking capacity is struck out.

7 February 2017

NHS Foundation Trust challenges its Hospital Managers’ decision

(1) South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, (2) Dr Whitworth v The Hospital Managers of St George’s Hospital & AU (Interested Party) [2016] EWHC 1196 (Admin) (Cranston J), 17 May 2016. The NHS Foundation Trust had capacity to b

1 August 2016

The lawfulness of a patient’s recall

Lee-Hirons v Secretary of State for Justice [2016] UKSC 46, 27 July 2016. The appellant, initially subject to detention under ss37 and 41 of the Mental Health Act 1983 had been conditionally discharged and therefore subject to recall.

1 August 2016

All social welfare updates

Publications

Helen writes regularly for the Garden Court Chambers Social Welfare Updates Blog.

Family Mediation: For Better or Worse - co-author with Kate Aubrey-Johnson, LAG, April 2011

Making mediation work for you - Kate Aubrey-Johnson with Helen Curtis, LAG, June 2012

Education

  • LLB (Hons)

Professional Membership

  • Civil Mediation Council
  • JUSTICE
  • Restorative Justice Council

Languages

  • French (basic)
  • Italian (basic)

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