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The Mental Health Trust, The Acute Trust and The Council v DD (By Her Litigation Friend, the Official Solicitor) [2014] EWCOP 11

Date:8 JUL 2014
Third slide
Law Reporter
(Court of Protection, Cobb J, 4 July 2014)

[The judicially approved judgment and accompanying headnote has now published in Family Law Reports [2015] 1 FLR 1430]

Capacity – Delivery of child via caesarean section – Mother with learning difficulties – History of medical complications and being unco-operative – Whether it was in the mother’s best interests to have a caesarean section

Please see attached file below for full judgment.

The 36-year-old woman had a complex obstetric history and was now in the advanced stages of pregnancy with her sixth child. Her previous five children had been removed from her care. She had a mild to borderline learning disability and an autistic spectrum disorder. The applicants sought a declaration of lawfulness for the delivery of the baby by caesarean section. They also sought authorisation to for an assessment of the woman’s capacity to make decisions about contraception to be conducted.

In her previous pregnancies the woman had suffered signs of a delusional disorder, a seriously distended bladder, intracerebral embolism causing fitting and a significant post partum haemorrhage.

During her pregnancy, which was categorised as high risk, the woman had failed to attend medical appointments and when a warrant was obtained pursuant to s 135 of the Mental Health Act 1983 the home conditions were found to be poor and both the mother and father were distressed. Social workers had been unable to obtain access to the home on a number of occasions.

On the basis of all the medical and psychiatric evidence available the judge concluded that: the woman lacked capacity to litigate; lacked capacity to make decisions as to her healthcare; it was in her best interests and lawful for her to have a caesarean section; the authorities would be authorised to take such necessary, reasonable and proportionate steps to give effect to the decision; there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the woman lacked capacity to consent to an assessment of her capacity and to make decisions on contraception; it was not in the woman’s best interests to be the subject of a one-day assessment of her capacity to make decisions on contraception at this stage.

The fully referenced, judicially approved judgment and headnote will appear in a forthcoming issue of Family Law Reports. A detailed summary and analysis of the case will appear in Family Law.

Neutral Citation Number: [2014] EWCOP 11
Case No: 12505653


Royal Courts of Justice

Date: 04/07/2014

Before :


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Between :

The Mental Health TrustThe Acute Trust&The Council

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DD(by her litigation friend, the Official Solicitor)BC

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John McKendrick (instructed by Bevan Brittan LLP) for the Applicants
Michael Horne (instructed by Solicitor agents, on behalf of the Official Solicitor) for the First Respondent, DD
The Second Respondent, BC, was neither present nor represented

Hearing dates: 1 & 2 July 2014

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Approved Judgment

I direct that pursuant to CPR PD 39A para 6.1 no official shorthand note shall be taken of this Judgment and that copies of this version as handed down may be treated as authentic.

The Mental Health Trust v DD [2014] EWCOP 11