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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

13 MAY 2013

COMPULSORY DETENTION: TW v London Borough of Enfield and Secretary of State for Health [2013] EWHC 1180 (QB)

(Queen's Bench Division, Bean J, 8 May 2013)

The 44-year-old woman suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and was detained in a specialist hospital for treatment for 77 days. She brought proceedings, on her own behalf, without the assistance of a litigation friend, for damages pursuant to s 139(2) of the Mental Health Act 1983 and a declaration that s 139 was incompatible with Art 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 when read together with Art 14.

Prior to her hospital admission the woman had reportedly, hit a neighbour, been taking rubbish out of the neighbour's dustbins and was unwilling to engage with support services. She also accused her father and brother of sexually abusing her. In addition she requested for her parents not to be informed about her and complained that it was a breach of confidentiality. The social worker applied for compulsory admission due to the high level of risk.

In R (E) v Bristol City Council [2005] EWHC 74 (Admin), Bennett J held that when a patient expressed a wish for her nearest relative to not be involved in decisions regarding her case and it appeared that to contradict that wish could cause the patient distress to the extent of affecting her health, the authority was entitled to regard consultation with the nearest relative as not reasonably practicable.

The woman was refused leave to pursue her claim. In line with the reasoning in R (E) v Bristol City Council it was not reasonably practicable within the meaning of s 11(4) of the Mental Health Act 1983 for Enfield to have consulted with the woman's father prior to her admission for treatment and, therefore, the claim was bound to fail.


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