The case involves an 18 year old (EOA). The Local Authority has applied for declarations and orders under s15 and s16 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Orders were sought to determine whether EOA lacked capacity to make decisions regarding: the conducting of proceedings, his care and support, his residence; his contact with others and foreign travel. EOA has no official cognitive diagnosis, and is represented in proceedings by his litigation friend, the Official Solicitor.
Simultaneously to the capacity determining orders, an application was brought under the inherent jurisdiction in relation to vulnerable adults due to concerns for EOA’s welfare. Concerns have been shared regarding the treatment of EOA and his siblings by their parents, and that EOA’s welfare was at risk from these persons.
The Local Authority brought this matter to the attention of the court, because firstly there were concerns that EOA would follow his twin brother and leave his foster placement. This was not permissible because of the mental capacity concerns raised about EOA.
Secondly, the foster placement was unstable, and as EOA was 18, a new placement was required.
Thirdly, there were concerns that EOA’s parents would take him to Nigeria and as such, the Home Office and passport office needed to be informed that EOA’s passport should be withheld from third parties. Additionally, EOA indicated that he wanted to travel to Nigeria.
Lastly there were also concerning issues pertaining to the health/medical treatment of EOA that required a decision, as well as issues associated with EOA’s right to follow his preferred religion and making provisions for this.
As a result of proceedings, EOA was moved into a supported living placement as per the order of Williams J. This supported living placement has not been entirely successful, and EOA made allegations of maltreatment.
Therefore, an urgent hearing was listed on the 16 December 2019 to determine whether it was in the best interests of EOA to continue living in this residence. The hearing also considered the application made under the inherent jurisdiction.
The judge did not find it necessary to revisit the decision of Cobb J – following submissions by the team in August, to the effect that the EOA falls within the definition of a vulnerable individual. The matter is now scheduled to progress to Final Hearing.
This is a highly complex case requiring specialist knowledge of the court of protection, inherent jurisdiction and Human Rights Act principles. It highlights our dedication to serving the best interests of vulnerable individuals, such as EOA, and liaising with multiple professionals regarding a number of involved areas. This case has unique elements, of which a strong feature is the high quality client care offered to EOA.
The client is represented by solicitor Helen Cummings of the Court of Protection department, along with trainee solicitor Silvie Cosenza and caseworker Rhiannon Jones assisting. Counsel instructed in the matter is Ian Brownhill of No 5 Chambers.