Court of Protection
“He is extremely detailed, thorough and on point. Clients really warm to him. He is brilliant to work with and goes through everything with a fine-tooth comb.”
Chambers & Partners
experience & expertise
In recent years, Michael has developed a specialism in cases involving adults and children who are unable to make their own decisions about serious medical treatment. There is a strong overlap with his clinical negligence practice, which also involves issues of consent, capacity and the choice of medical treatment which is in a patient’s best interests.
Michael has been involved in a number of high profile Court of Protection medical treatment cases, such as King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust v (1) C (2) V  COPLR 50 (acting for NHS Trust in application seeking declarations that a socialite who had ‘lost her sparkle’ lacked the capacity to decide to reject life-sustaining renal treatment), and An NHS Trust & Others v DD  EWCOP 5 (forcible sterilisation of woman with autism and learning disabilities who concealed high risk pregnancies).
Recent cases have involved a wide range of subject matter: anorexia, cancer treatment, end-of-life care, organ donation, therapeutic sterilisation, non-therapeutic sterilisation, contraception, withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration in MCS and PVS.
cases & work of Note
- King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust v (1) C (2) V  COPLR 50 (acting for NHS Trust in a notorious case where a patient was held to have capacity to refuse life-sustaining treatment);
- (1) NHS Trust (2) NHS Trust v FG  1 WLR 1984 (acting for the Official Solicitor, case giving detailed guidance for managing pregnancy in pregnant women with mental illness);
- An NHS Trust & Others v DD  EWCOP 8,  EWCOP 11,  EWCOP 4,  EWCOP 13,  EWCOP 44, and  EWCOP 5 (acting for the Official Solicitor in a series of applications involving management of ante-natal care, forcible capacity assessment, per-natal care, contraception and culminating in forcible sterilisation);
- NHS Gloucestershire CCG v AB  EWCOP 49 (acting for Official Solicitor in case authorising withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration in patient in a permanent vegetative state ‘PVS’)
- Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust v JB  EWHC 342 (COP) (acting for Official Solicitor in case involving above knee amputation)
- City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust v LO  EWCOP (acting for Official Solicitor in case involving caesarean section for incapacitous obstetric patient)
- Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v AA  EWHC 1666 (Fam) and  EWHC 132 (Fam) (capacity; obstetric care)
- Re SB  EWHC 1417 (COP) (acting for patient resisting declarations that she lacked capacity to terminate pregnancy)
- B v An NHS Trust  2 All ER 449 (acting for NHS Trust where patient refused consent to continued ventilation and associated treatment on ICU)
“A pleasure to work with – he is particularly good at liaising with health and social care professionals to understand the nuances of the evidence.”
Chambers & Partners
“He is very good, solid and dependable.”
Chambers & Partners
Applications in cases where adults and children are unable to make their own decisions about whether to undergo serious medical treatment are amongst the most rewarding that I deal with. It is not overdramatising to say that their outcome sometimes makes the difference between life and death. It is rare that lawyers are involved in cases of that gravity.
Serious medical treatment decision cases fit very well with the skills I have developed through my strong clinical negligence background. Both require the ability to read and distill technical medical issues quickly and accurately. Both require a strong understanding of whether patients retain the capacity to make their own decisions, the ability to analyse the pros and cons of the treatment in question. Both require a calm and methodical approach.
“Our collective willingness to discuss cases, share experiences, and debate difficult issues is an invaluable support to all.”
The self-contained nature of treatment decision cases is demanding and rewarding in equal measure. They often arise at short notice, sometimes out of hours, and require the barrister to drop other cases and focus solely on the application. There are few other areas where a barrister will see litigation through from first involvement to final conclusion in a matter of hours, days or weeks.
I enjoy the variety in advocacy involved before the Court of Protection and Family Division. The proceedings are of a more inquisitorial nature than much of my practice. Although there are inevitably disputes between the parties along the way, the applications are less about winning or losing, but more about reaching the ‘right decision’ for the patient, whether it is on capacity or as to what course is in their best interests.
Although most of my cases in this area of work involve medical treatment decisions, I am very familiar with the complex interface between the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Mental Health Act 1983, as well as the associated deprivation of liberty issues.
I find it an enormous help that in Chambers we have a number of senior colleagues who specialise in this area. Our collective willingness to discuss cases, share experiences, and debate difficult issues is an invaluable support to all.