Court of Protection finds woman with anorexia can be fed by force if necessary
Is giving life-sustaining treatment in the best interests of a person lacking capacity but fully aware of her situation? Mark Mullins recently represented the Health Authority in A local authority v E & others, the first case in which the Court of Protection has had to grapple with this question. In previous cases courts have declared lawful the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment from persons in a PVS or minimally conscious and from the very young and very old terminally ill. The position of an adult lacking capacity but able to express her views has never been dealt with before.
Giving judgement in the Court of Protection on Friday 15th June 2012, Mr Justice Peter Jackson described the factors for and against the feeding, by force if necessary, of a woman (E) with anorexia and near to death as “almost exactly in equilibrium” but that the “balance tips slowly but unmistakably in the direction of life-preserving treatment.” He declared that E lacks capacity to make decisions about life-sustaining treatment, and that it was lawful and in her best interests for her to be fed, forcibly if necessary. The resulting interference with E’s rights under Articles 8 and 3 was proportionate and necessary in order to protect her right to life under Article 2 ECHR.
Click here to download the judgement.