Court recognises importance of pet dog in life of a person lacking mental capacity

Thursday 1 September 2016

Mrs P (by her litigation friend, the Official Solicitor) v Rochdale BC (1) NHS North, Central and South Manchester CCG (2) [2016] EWCOP B1, DJ Matharu, 18 July 2016. The court highlighted the importance of a pet in the life of the person lacking mental capacity.

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Mrs P (by her litigation friend, the Official Solicitor) v Rochdale BC (1) NHS North, Central and South Manchester CCG (2) [2016] EWCOP B1, DJ Matharu, 18 July 2016

The court highlighted the importance of a pet in the life of the person lacking mental capacity.

In proceedings concerning the deprivation of liberty and care arrangements of Mrs P, the court revoked the appointment of the property and financial affairs deputy, a solicitors’ firm, on the grounds that it was not acting in Mrs P’s best interests.

Care plans and assessments repeatedly raised the need to reappraise Mrs P’s needs and to financially provide for her in relation to her diet, weight loss and new clothes, and which made clear that the only living being with whom she shared any love or devotion was her dog, Bobby.

The deputy delayed in establishing Mrs P’s financial position and contended that the solicitor for the litigation friend had no legal standing to act on Mrs P’s behalf. In response to the request that Mrs P’s dog be brought to her, the deputy responded:

In such a case we would say that possession of Bobby has passed to his new owner….in the absence of any factual information about Bobby, his owner or the home’s policy on animals, it would seem irresponsible in the extreme to suggest that a dog visits a care home for elderly and frail people.”

The judge considered these comments “brutal and insensitive” and referred to the social worker’s evidence:

I would recommend that of single most importance in her life is her dog and having some form of contact with her dog in the future if possible”.

Further, the deputy was bound by any order the court made because under Rule 74, Court of Protection Rules any person who has been served with or notified of an application form shall be bound as if they were a party.

The full judgment is available.

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