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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

04 DEC 2013

Enforced caesarean sanctioned by the Court of Protection

This week has seen various media outlets report the news of a decision, taken by Mostyn J sitting in the Court of Protection in August last year, to grant permission for an enforced caesarean section in respect of an Italian mother, visiting the UK.

The mother suffered from bipolar disorder and had been inconsistent in taking medication. She experienced a decline in her mental health during her stay necessitating her detention under s 2 and later s 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

Five weeks after her detention, the local authority applied to the Court of Protection for authorisation of the delivery of the child. The child was placed with foster carers under a series of interim care orders while the mother returned to Italy.

Judgment was given by His Honour Judge Newton, sitting in the Chelmsford County Court in February granting final care and placement orders. Reports suggest that the adoption proceedings are now being transferred to the High Court, and assigned to Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division.

This morning we learned that yesterday Essex County Council made an application for a without notice reporting restriction order barring publication of the name and date of birth of the child, the names of the parents and the maternal family and photographs if such publication was likely to lead to the identification of the child.

The President declined the order, finding that, the circumstances were not such as, having regard to s 12(2) of the Human Rights Act 1998, to justify the making of any order unless steps had first been taken by Essex County Council to notify the media of the application. He made clear that he was ready to hear any further application which Essex County Council might wish to make having given notice to the media. No such further application has been made.

In response to the media coverage of the case, Essex County Council issued brief history of the proceedings and a statement asserting that:

'The long term safety and wellbeing of children is always Essex County Council's priority. Adoption is never considered until we have exhausted all other options and is never pursued lightly.'

A transcript of the judgment of Mostyn J is currently being approved and we will publish a full summary as soon as it is available. In the meantime a summary of the judgment of His Honour Judge Newton is available here.    

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