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Re JS (Disposal of Body) [2016] EWHC 2859 (Fam)

Sep 29, 2018, 19:33 PM
Private law children – Death – Disposal of body – 14-year-old girl sought to be cryogenically frozen – Estranged father opposed
An order was made granting the mother sole responsibility for disposing of the girl’s body and making arrangements for cryogenic freezing.
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(Family Division, Peter Jackson, 10 November 2016)

Private law children – Death – Disposal of body – 14-year-old girl sought to be cryogenically frozen – Estranged father opposed

An order was made granting the mother sole responsibility for disposing of the girl’s body and making arrangements for cryogenic freezing.

The young girl, who lived with her mother and was estranged from her father, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. When the father found out he initiated proceedings seeking an order for contact. Only indirect contact was ordered by the court.

In August 2016 when the girl was 14 she informed that her cancer was terminal and treatment ceased. She researched cryonics (the freezing of a dead body in the hope that resuscitation and a cure might be possible in the future) and decided that upon death she would like her body to be transported to the USA and frozen in perpetuity. The mother supported that wish but the father opposed it. He also sought permission to see the girl’s body after death.

As the girl was too young to make a will indicating her wish and appointing the mother as executor of her estate, she applied for an order which would, inter alia, permit the mother to make arrangements during the girl’s lifetime and appoint the mother as sole administrator of her estate.

The application was allowed. In the circumstances of the case the court had the power to make a decision with prospective effect. It could be argued that the girl’s present welfare could not be adequately protected by the court refusing to entertain the application.

Since all parties were now represented it would prevent undignified scenes later on and provide clarity to third parties to solve the issues at the present time. The girl did not want to be seen by the father or members of the paternal family after death and the possibility of that happening was causing her distress. There was a very deep and long-standing breakdown in family relations and there was no chance that there would be a change before the girl’s death.

The father’s role in the girl’s life had been extremely limited in recent years. The request to see her after death was only going to cause her distress in life. Preventing the father from seeing her was a serious conclusion but was justified on the exceptional facts of the case.

An order was made giving the mother sole responsibility for the preservation of the girl’s body and dealing with who was permitted to view it.



JUDGMENT APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION ON 18 NOVEMBER 2016
NB A REPORTING RESTRICTION ORDER APPLIES IN THIS CASE – SEE APPENDIX

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
FAMILY DIVISION
Case No: FD16P00526 
[2016] EWHC 2859 (Fam)

10 November 2016
Before:


THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE PETER JACKSON
Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice

---------------------------------------------

Between:


JS
Applicant


‐and‐


M
1st Respondent


‐and‐


F
2nd Respondent

---------------------------------------------

Frances Judd QC & Dr Rob George (instructed by Dawson Cornwell) for the Applicant
Stephen Crispin (instructed by Bindmans) for the 1st Respondent
Helen Khan (instructed by Kilic and Kilic Solicitors) for the 2nd Respondent William Tyler QC & Kate Tomkins (instructed by CAFCASS Legal) as Advocate to the Court Christina Helden (Hempsons Solicitors) for the Hospital Trust


Hearing dates: 26 September, 4 October, 6 October 2016 Judgment date: 10 November 2016

---------------------------------------------

JUDGMENT: Re JS (Disposal of Body)

---------------------------------------------

IMPORTANT NOTICE


This judgment was delivered in private. This version may be published on condition that the reporting restriction order (see Appendix) is observed and the anonymity of the persons concerned is strictly preserved. All persons, including representatives of the media, must ensure that this condition is strictly complied with. Failure to do so may be a contempt of court.

JS v M and F [2016] EWHC 2859 (Fam).pdf
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