London Borough of Brent v C [2016] EWHC 1335 (Fam) (28 April 2016)

Posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

In this case the child, known as C, was raised by a foster mother instead of his natural mother as she wanted no involvement within the child’s life. The natural mother signed papers to have C adopted however this process was halted when it was discovered that C was suffering from a disorder which destroyed the nerve cells in his body and would inevitably lead to his death later on in life. The mother, who still had parental responsibility for the child, claimed she wanted no involvement in any of C’s medical decisions and only wished to be informed when he died. Her wishes were ignored and she was asked numerous times for consent and decisions on medical treatment for C. A care order was eventually given to the local authorities that meant that they were able to obtain parental responsibility for C.

The case was held in the High Courts of Justice where the honourable Mr Justice Holman declared that there had been a breach of Article 8 as C was delayed in having a family life due to the local authority not declaring a care order sooner. The independent reviewing officer also breached C’s Article 8 rights by failing to take effective steps to resolve the situation between the local authority and C. The mother’s human rights may also have been potentially breached as she was a young girl herself at the time who wanted no involvement in C’s life and yet she had constant intrusions in her life regarding her consent and decisions to medical treatment given to C.

The judgement concluded that the mother should only be contacted again when C had died and all the funeral arrangements were to be carried out by the foster mother. An emergency care plan was also to be agreed by the staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital with C’s best interest at heart to make sure he had the least pain and maximum dignity during the time he had left.

The full judgment can be read here

Summary by Claire Richardson

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