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Conrad Hallin in landmark Court of Appeal ruling on the test for capacity

14th May 2013

Conrad Hallin represented City of York Council in the Court of Appeal in the landmark case of PC v City of York Council [2013] EWCA Civ 478. The case concerned a 48 year old woman with learning disabilities who in 2006 had married a man convicted of serious sexual offences whilst he was in prison. City of York Council had at first instance obtained an order allowing monitoring of the couple given the high risk of harm to PC. The Official Solicitor appealed primarily on the basis that the test for capacity was ‘act not person specific’, i.e. that the risk posed by NC was as a matter of law irrelevant for determining PC’s capacity. In this important legal ruling as to the correct approach to the test of capacity the Court of Appeal accepted City of York’s submissions that first instance judges should applying the plain meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and that the risk posed by NC was ‘information relevant to the decision’ that PC had to make under section 3 of the MCA, deprecating any attempt to add any embellishment or gloss to the statutory wording. On the facts, however, the Court of Appeal held that the expert evidence as to PC’s lack of capacity was insufficient to warrant the declaration made by Hedley J.

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