The Practical Lawyer


Court of Protection – spouses

The LA failed in its application under the Mental Health Act 2005 for orders restricting H’s contact with his 83-year-old wife (P). 

She had been diagnosed with late onset Alzheimer’s disease of moderate to severe intensity. They had been married for 58 years and the evidence was that they had a strong, close and happy relationship. However, H had previously vocalised support for euthanasia.

P had respite care at one-day placements, but on one particular occasion she became distressed and her placement was extended immediately to one week. This caused problems with the family who wanted her returned home. P also expressed a wish to return home, leading to these proceedings.

On the evidence, H had clearly expressed his support for euthanasia at various times to different professionals and had declined the opportunity to deny expressing those views. While he had also made other concerning comments, the key issue for the judge was to determine what, if any, risk arises from his expressed views in relation to P.

She found that no adequate investigation had been made into H’s reasons for making such comments and his understanding of supporting euthanasia (his evidence showed this related to the right to self-determination and dignity). H was, however, consistent that he would never dream of hurting his wife who had always been safe when they were left alone together.

The judge therefore concluded that the restriction sought by the LA was neither justifiable, proportionate or necessary and refused its applications, but she went on to set out issues which H needed to consider in relation to P’s best interests. SR v A Local Authority [2018] EWCOP 36.


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