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John McKendrick acts in landmark Court of Protection case

John McKendrick, instructed by Hannah Taylor of Bevan Brittan, acted for two health authorities and the relevant local authority in complex proceedings, resolved by Mr Justice Cobb by granting the relief sought by the applicants, permitting the sterilisation of a learning disabled woman, referred to as DD.

The proceedings began in May 2014 and have involved decisions by Mostyn J, Pauffley J and Cobb J and have been reported at Mental Health Trust & DD [2014] EWCOP 11; [2014] EWCOP 13; and [2014] EWCOP 44.

Mr Justice Cobb’s decision in Mental Health Trust v DD & BC [2015] EWCOP 4 is the latest decision in these complex proceedings. He concluded the evidence powerfully demonstrated DD lacked capacity to make decisions in respect of future contraception. After hearing detailed legal submissions, Cobb J authorised the applicants to use reasonable force to enter DD’s home; the use of restraint and sedation; and the deprivation of DD’s liberty occasioned by the need to take her from her home to hospital, to undergo the sterilisation procedure.

Cobb J was at pains to emphasise the sterilisation was wholly unrelated to any notion of eugenics, and whilst DD has given birth to six children, the relief sought was granted as the evidence demonstrated it was wholly in her best interests to undergo a sterilisation, given the grave risks to her health of falling pregnant again. Without intervention by the state, there was a real risk DD would die, should she fall pregnant again.

The relief granted is thought to be the most exceptional in the history of the Court of Protection. The court concluded the relief sought was “extraordinary” but necessary.

John McKendrick works in all areas of public law and has particular expertise in serious medical treatment cases. He successfully acted for the local authority in A Health Authority, v DE [2013] 2562 (Fam) the first ever successful male sterilisation application.

Read the judgment here.

News 4 Feb, 2015


John McKendrick KC

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