Court of Protection
Bridget secures £10k damages after a Local Authority infringed her client’s Art 8 right to have sexual relations.
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“Is able to assimilate vast quantities of information very quickly and identify the nub of the problem quickly. She notes and discards irrelevancies, concentrating on the things that will matter to the judge.”
The Legal 500 2021
experience & expertise
Recognised as a leading practitioner in the Court of Protection, Bridget has been described as “ahead of the game on all matters involving the Mental Health Act and Mental Capacity Act.” She is regularly instructed in heavyweight cases involving substantial and complex life and death medical treatment decisions in respect of adults who lack capacity, as well as medical decision making for children in the High Court Family Division.
Bridget excels in cases at the interface of the Mental Capacity Act and mental health legislation. Her wider experience as a forensic psychologist and as a Mental Health Tribunal judge is often put to good use when she advises public bodies on general operational policy relating to the Mental Capacity Act, the Mental Health Act and DOLS. Bridget is frequently instructed as counsel to the Official Solicitor, not only when he has been appointed as a litigation friend to the incapable person, but also representing the Official Solicitor as a party in his own right in significant ‘test’ cases.
Bridget also acts in cases involving the property and affairs of incapable people particularly where significant disputes about capacity arise or in cases involving statutory wills. Most recently she was instructed for a P&A Deputy in a series of cases considering challenges to a ‘Peters Order’ following very high value personal injury settlements.
Cases & work of note
Bridget has acted in some of the key cases at the inception of the MCA/DOLS regime such as TB and GJ (seminal cases considering the relationship between MHA and MCA DOLS); Re A  3 WLR 119 (on the proper construction of the DOLS eligibility schedule); representing the Official Solicitor in the JM  4 WLR 64, series of test cases, regarding the need for r.3A representation in Re X type DOLS cases following the Cheshire West judgment and GSTT & SLAM v R  EWCOP 4, regarding the Court’s jurisdiction to make a contingent declaration when a person still has capacity.
Bridget is sought after to act in complex serious medical treatment cases that give rise to difficult legal and ethical dilemmas such as: An NHS Trust v MC  EWCOP 33 the first ever application to come before the Court of Protection seeking consent for peripheral blood stem cell donation to a relative by someone lacking capacity; and UCH v KG  EWCOP 29 when Bridget represented the first human recipient of a novel untested therapy for sCJD; B v D and the Ministry of Defence  EWCOP 15, regarding whether a brain injured man could undergo unlicensed and experimental stem cell treatment in Eastern Europe, and the ground-breaking case of RC  Med LR 260, regarding the extent of a doctor’s duty to prevent the death of a self-harming detained patient who was refusing a blood transfusion where the patient’s Art 9 ECHR rights to freedom of religious expression were engaged.
She is often instructed in the most profound of cases involving the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment from those with persistent disorders of consciousness (including the first MCS case of W v M  1 WLR 1653). In 2017 she acted for the Official Solicitor in his own right in an important ‘test case’ considering whether there is a requirement to bring the issue of withdrawal of life sustaining nutrition and hydration before the court where parties are in agreement on best interests.
Bridget has fought and defended a number of claims for a remedy under the Human Rights Act that have arisen within CoP proceedings. She acted for the successful litigant in the first case to achieve a declaration of breach of ECHR rights in the Court of Protection (Re MM  1 FLR 712) and has obtained significant financial damages on behalf of ‘P’ where public bodies’ failures breached Art 5 and Art 8 rights; such as the £27k paid to Mrs and Mr D following an Art 5 breach in A Local Authority v Mrs D & Mr D  EWHC B34 (COP), the £10k she achieved on behalf of a man with Down’s syndrome who was required to cease sexual relations with his wife following the failure of the Local Authority to provide him with sex education (CH v A Metropolitan Council  EWCOP 12) and, in 2019, a settlement of £35,000 for a client wrongly detained in a care home.
Unsurprisingly, Bridget’s advice on the management of apparent shortcomings is often sought by public bodies when concerned that they may be found liable for ECHR breaches.
seminars & Lectures
Following from Bridget’s previous career as a lecturer at St George’s Medical School she is sought after to provide teaching and training for judges, lawyers and other professionals. She has been commissioned to deliver training at all levels for High Court Judges, Senior Coroners and Mental Health Tribunal Judges through to undergraduate students. She is always happy to work with solicitors firms and public bodies to devise and present custom-made training.
PRO BONO AND DIRECT ACCESS WORK
Bridget accepts pro bono mental health, Court of Protection and Inquest cases, including providing representation for families at inquests, via the Bar Pro-Bono Unit and mental health charities. She is also Direct Access accredited and accepts direct access work in the Court of Protection and Coroners Courts.
“She has deep sector knowledge and is really easy to work with. She’s extremely good at assimilating immense quantities of information, knowing what the judge will be interested in and identifying how to present a case to a judge.” “She is excellent in court and commands the judges’ attention.”
Chambers & Partners 2021
‘Is able to assimilate vast quantities of information very quickly and identify the nub of the problem quickly. She notes and discards irrelevancies, concentrating on the things that will matter to the judge.’
The Legal 500 2021
“Bridget is able to get to the crux of a matter swiftly and succinctly. Her expertise in complex matters in the Court of Protection, particularly with regards to sexual relations, is outstanding. She is accessible, responsive and provides clear and helpful advice.” “She is really down to earth, gets things really quickly and thinks outside the box.” “She’s fantastic on her feet – an excellent advocate.”
Chambers & Partners 2020
‘She makes difficult cases look easy.’
The Legal 500 2019
“She is an excellent advocate who is fantastic on her feet and highly regarded by the judiciary. She is a leader in matters involving the Mental Capacity Act and the Mental Health Act.” “Bridget has a strong background in mental health and is just a powerhouse in terms of her general presence in healthcare law.”
Chambers & Partners 2019
‘A fearsome advocate who is available at any hour of the day or night.’
The Legal 500 2018
“She’s so knowledgeable and very helpful with clients. She’ll always make the time for you.”
Chambers & Partners 2018
‘Her ability to unravel difficult issues is second to none and she deals with things quickly, concisely and sensibly.’
The Legal 500 2017
“Absolutely excellent and incredibly clever… She’s very clear and precise, and has a good approach with witnesses. One of the best cross-examiners at the Bar.”
Chambers & Partners 2017
“Very bright and knowledgeable, with a good feel for what is likely to happen.” “She doesn’t miss anything and gives the impression of being a couple of steps ahead of everyone else.”
The Legal 500 2016
“Her advocacy skills are excellent and she clearly enjoys being in the courtroom. She is measured and knows when to take points and when not to. Skilled, tenacious yet graceful.”
Chambers & Partners 2016
“She is sensible in court and takes a practical approach to the issues in the case and how to deal with them. She also has a solid base of clinical knowledge.” “Even under huge amounts of pressure she has a calm, controlled and collected approach.”
Chambers & Partners 2016
“Passionate about her work, she’s a thorough and utterly reliable counsel, who is able to deliver digestible advice in tricky cases.” “She is utterly dependable and has a keen eye for important details missed by others.”
Chambers & Partners 2015
“She is a delight to work and has comprehensive knowledge of the law.” “She is smart, perceptive and absolutely excellent with clients.”
The Legal 500 2015
“A go-to for heavyweight medical cases, who regularly advises the Official Solicitor as well as public bodies on general operational policy relating to the Mental Capacity Act. ‘She is a leading expert on capacity matters and that comes from her background in psychology. She provides well thought-out advice, is very pragmatic and is good at cross-examining experts and asking the right questions.’”
Chambers & Partners 2014
“She is wonderful on cases overlapping with mental health; she’s an absolute authority there. She’s good with more troubled clients, has a lovely manner and is patient.”
Chambers & Partners 2014
“Very sensible, approachable and open. She is ‘the kind of advocate that judges like.”
Chambers & Partners 2013
Bridget has written 3 books and over fifty academic articles: A selection of her publications include:
Medical Treatment Decisions and the Law (2016) Co-author of two chapters and editor of three others. Bloomsbury, London
Forensic Mental Health Concepts Systems and Practice (2009) Chapter: Law and the Mentally Disordered Offender: an Overview of Structures and Statutes. Bartlett and McGauley, Oxford University Press (co-authored with Martin Wrench)
Disclosing confidential clinical information (2004) Psychiatric Bulletin, 28, 53-56, Gaskell, London
An introduction to the law relevant to Mentally Disordered Offenders (2004) Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, S12-18, Wiley, London.
Review of Treatments for Severe Personality Disorder (2003) Home Office, London (co-author of report commissioned by the Home Office/Dept Health)
The Mental Health Act 1983 explained (2001) Dolan B & Powell D, Stationery Office, London (Second Edition)