Court of Protection

“The gold standard for complex CoP work with a medical aspect. Any barrister instructed from this set will be of an exceptionally high standard.”

The Legal 500

COURT OF PROTECTION

Serjeants’ Inn is at the cutting-edge of the law concerning decision making for those lacking capacity. Our Court of Protection team, led by Michael Mylonas QC and Sophia Roper QC,  is highly ranked by the independent legal directories, which describe Serjeants’ Inn as a “go-to set for Court of Protection matters” (The Legal 500) with “a very impressive track record of handling the leading and most publicised cases in the area” (Chambers & Partners).

Our expertise in this area is underlined by the fact that we write and edit the only comprehensive legal textbook in this field, Medical Treatment: Decisions and the Law. The fourth edition, edited by Christopher Johnston QC and Sophia Roper QC, is due to be published in Spring 2022. It was written by a team of 29 members of Serjeants’ Inn.  We also publish a blog, the UK Medical Decision Law Blog.

The team’s work encompasses all areas of human rights and civil liberties in health, social care and financial decision-making with members advising and representing statutory bodies, incapable people and their families in cases covering a very wide range of legal and factual issues.

We have been instructed in a number of key cases including:

  • Re William Verden: Bridget Dolan QC and Emma Sutton, appeared on behalf of William, a 17-year-old with autism, through The Official Solicitor in the application for William to receive a kidney transplant against the professionals’ opinion. Mrs Justice Arbuthnot allowed the transplant judging it is in William’s best interest. The BBC made a successful application to set the reporting restrictions order aside in order that the media could support the campaign launched by William’s mother  to find him a kidney donor. This case was largely covered by the press, find an example here.
  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v Ms P: Michael Mylonas QC and Debra Powell QC appeared in this very difficult and sensitive case where an intelligent, well-educated and articulate woman, in her late 40’s, with a psychotic illness and ovarian cancer was refusing to undergo a hysterectomy that stood a good chance of curing her cancer, and without which she could die. Mr Justice Moor decided that she lacked capacity and the Court of Appeal refused her permission to appeal.
  • Re M (Declaration of Death of Child): Neil Davy acted on behalf of the Trust seeking a declaration that mechanical ventilation could be withdrawn from a baby on the basis that death had already occurred. This case involved the medically and ethically complex issue of when death should be deemed to have occurred and the Court of Appeal’s decision is now the authoritative decision on the legal definition of death.
  • Briggs: Conrad Hallin appeared for the NHS Trust and CCG in this seminal case determining the limits of s21A of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) before the Vice President of the Court of Protection.
  • Re JM: Bridget Dolan QC, Conrad Hallin and Amy Street all appeared in this landmark test case before the Vice President to determine the lawfulness of procedural steps following the Supreme Court decision in Cheshire West. Charles J placed responsibility on central government to ensure that those lacking mental capacity had independent representation in circumstances where they were deprived of their liberty, whilst finding that local authorities and CCGs had no statutory duty to provide such representation. The judge criticised the MoJ and DoH for their “avoidant approach that prioritises budgetary considerations over responsibilities to vulnerable people”. The case has implications for thousands of sensitive court applications regarding vulnerable persons every year. Described by the Law Society as an “unprecedented judgment.”
  • Re XMichael Mylonas QC and Conrad Hallin were instructed in this hugely significant Court of Protection case in which the court tried to identify a cost effective and lawful way of dealing with the many thousands of Deprivation of Liberty applications that were being made each month.
  • King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust v (1) C (2) V [2016] COPLR 50Michael Horne QC acted for the NHS trust and Katie Gollop QC was instructed by the Official Solicitor in this notorious case concerning a socialite who had ‘lost her sparkle’ and was held to have capacity to refuse life-sustaining treatment.
  • M v N and the Bury CCG and Another [2015] EWCOP 76, [2016] COPLR 88: Katie Gollop QC was instructed in this important decision concerning the weight to be attached to evidence about the patient’s wishes and feelings in relation to the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment. The patient had multiple sclerosis and had a prolonged disorder of consciousness as a result. There was a dispute between the experts as to whether she was in a vegetative or minimally conscious state: the court found she was minimally conscious. The court declared that it was not in her best interests to continue to receive life sustaining treatment.
  • An NHS Trust v A: Angus Moon QC was instructed by The Official Solicitor in a claim for declaration permitting “force-feeding” of an Iranian hunger striker whose passport had been removed by the UK Border Agency. The case involved the making of a new law in relation to a “gap” in the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

 

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