2012 03 Mental Health

Sunday 1 April 2012

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Reynolds v UK 2694/08 [2012] ECHR 437. A voluntary in-patient killed himself by breaking and jumping out of a sixth-floor window: the court held that there was an arguable claim that an operational duty under Article 2 arose to take reasonable steps to protect him from a real and immediate risk of suicide and that that duty was not fulfilled. There were no domestic civil proceedings available to his mother to establish any liability and compensation due as regards the non-pecuniary damage suffered by her on her son’s death, and therefore there was a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2. Neither the inquest nor the internal inquiry were an effective remedy and the Human Rights claim under Article 2 was struck out by the county court because of domestic case law at that time which required gross negligence. The lack of adequate compensation would itself reduce access to the civil remedy, as the legal aid 'cost/benefit analysis' would not be met and legal fees were unaffordable (click here for transcript).

DD v Lithuania 13469/06 [2012] ECHR 254. Following on from Stanev the European Court of Human Rights held a breach of Article 5(4) and Article 6(1) in relation to involuntary admission to a psychiatric institution. DD lacked capacity and was placed under guardianship by the state and subsequently deprived of her liberty in social care homes. In DD’s case her adopted father initially agreed to act as her guardian, although he subsequently requested that he be replaced and was replaced first by her psychiatrist who was later replaced first by her adoptive father and then by the social care home in which DD was detained. The initial procedures for determining that DD should be placed in the social care home were deemed to be sufficiently robust to comply with Art 5(1) ECHR and the provisions laid down in the decision in Winterwerp v Netherlands for the detention of ‘persons of unsound mind’. However, as in Stanev the procedures for challenging both her guardianship and her subsequent detention were inadequate and the court found violations of both Art 5(4) ECHR and Art 6(1) ECHR. (click here for transcript).

R (W) v (1) Dr Fintan Larkin, (2) Secretary of State for Justice and others [2012] EWHC 556 (Admin) (Ouseley J): A warrant for the claimant's transfer to prison was issued on the 1st Defendant’s (RC) advice in the context of Broadmoor's DSPD unit being about to close on 29/3/12. The court held It is not unlawful for an RC to tick both the 'no longer requires treatment in hospital for mental disorder' and the 'no effective treatment for his disorder can be given in the hospital to which he has been removed' boxes on the s50 proforma. There was no evidence that the views expressed on the form were not those of the RC or that he had subordinated his clinical judgment to expediency or national strategies. No relief would have been granted even had there been unlawfulness: the claimant had to leave Broadmoor, no MSU would then take him, so he had to return to prison in any event (click here for transcript).

The applicant was represented by Tim Baldwin.

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