Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Ruling will stop the bullies

News that courts can step in to protect elderly and vulnerable people from their own families has been welcomed by our family law team.

Fiona Mainwaring said the decision meant elderly relatives could not be bullied.

"The news comes after the Court of Appeal ruled an elderly woman who was bullied by her son into moving into a care home had not given valid consent to the move.

"This was the first appeal since the Mental Capacity Act came into force, and it was asked to consider if a vulnerable adult could still be the victim of psychological abuse. And the appeal judges ruled that the Act had not taken away the High Court's right to intervene."

Fiona said even though the Act had been introduced to protect adults lacking mental capacity, such as those with dementia, this decision meant the court could also step in to help anyone who had been coerced or had been put under severe pressure.

The case was brought by the local authority against the woman's son, who was living with his mother at the time, following concerns that he was over-controlling in her life. He was reported to have threatened his mother, told her where in the house she could move, prevented her from going out, and tried to force her to move into a care home.

"His mother asked the local authority not to launch the case, but they applied for an injunction to stop the son interfering with his mother's decisions.

"This decision shows the courts can step in to protect anyone who is unable to give a 'true consent' to a particular aspect of their own lives - not as a result of mental incapacity but for some other reason such as pressure from someone else.

"I'm very pleased that with this ruling, the Court of Appeal has ensured everyone will receive the protection they deserve at times when they may be at their most vulnerable. This is good news, particularly at a time when the UK's elderly population is on the increase and decisions over care will become more and more frequent."