After doctors today told the High Court that an Iranian immigrant on hunger strike must be force fed because a 'delusional disorder' renders him incapable of a decision on starvation, we look back at three other notorious Court of Protection hearings.
Deprivation of Liberty
The most publicly known case in the Court of Protection involved Steven Neary, a young man with autism and learning difficulties who was illegally deprived of his liberty by Hillingdon Borough Council when he was forcibly taken into care. Steven's father Mark fought tirelessly against council officials and eventually won his case. The judge was scathing of Hillingdon's actions and said a “lesser man” than Mark Neary might never have got his son back.
Abortion request for a young mother
Earlier this month the Court of Protection was asked to decide whether a young pregnant woman with sickle cell anaemia and impaired mental faculties should be allowed to keep her child. In a case that illustrated the often grey nature of capacity, the judge ruled that while the woman lacked the ability to litigate - and might indeed have trouble bringing up her child - she nonetheless had enough capacity to decide that she wanted to press ahead with her pregnancy.
Capacity to consent to sex
In an example of how capacity can be both lost and won, a gay man known only as “Alan” (not his real name) with severe learning difficulties was forbidden by a judge from having anal sex because he lacked the capacity to understand consensual, safe sexual relationships. The judge, however, recognised that Alan might one day be able to make safe decision about sex if he was given enough education by his local authority.