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Best interests: preventing person with Korsakoff’s Syndrome from drinking alcohol

8 September 2017, by Bethan Harris

Bethan Harris

DM v Y City Council [2017] EWCOP 13, Bodey J, 15 June 2017

On a s 21A MCA 2005 application the court determined that it was in DM’s best interests to remain in the current care home where he was forbidden to drink alcohol rather than move to a home that allowed the consumption of alcohol.

DM suffered from Korsakoff’s Syndrome and lacked capacity to make decisions as to his care and residence and as to drinking alcohol. He needed support with all aspects of daily living. DM wished to drink alcohol. Expert evidence established that in view of his cirrhosis of the liver even if he were to drink a relatively low level of alcohol his life expectancy would be significantly reduced. The judge was referred to Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust v James [2013] UKSC 67 and Local Authority X v MM and Another [2007] EWHC 2003 including the passage in Munby J’s judgment, “What good is making someone safe if it merely makes them miserable?”

Bodey J considered it a finely balanced decision, and attached much weight to DM’s expressed view, but concluded that remaining where he was the least restrictive option consistent with his best interests, and although moving him would be fulfilling his stated wish, he would be losing much else of real value to his quality of life.

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