MM, Re  EWHC 2226(Fam) (10 August 2016)
This was an application by a Local Authority for committal for contempt of court following breach of a Court of Protection order.
MM is an 80 year old man with vascular dementia who had lived in the South West for 50 years or more. He did not have the capacity to make decisions about his residence and care. K removed him from his home to hers in Sussex.
The matter came to the High Court in April 2015 once it became apparent that MM had been removed from the jurisdiction and taken to Portugal. A report from an independent social worker recommended that it was in MM’s best interests to live in a care home in the South West, where he had previously lived, rather than in Sussex. A number of orders were made in 2015 that MM should be returned to this jurisdiction, however he remained in Portugal.
Fresh investigations into MM’s welfare were ordered in 2016 and the court again determined that it was in MM’s best interests to live in a residential care home in this country, in the South West.
The order provided for K to sign the written declaration of authority so that MM could be released to the local authority, and it had a penal notice attached to it. The order was very clear. K was present in court and the judge explained to her precisely the meaning and terms of the order. K failed to comply with the order and made it abundantly clear that she had no intention to do so, because she strongly believed that the court was wrong and she was right.
Mr Justice Newton sentenced K to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for a period of seven days only to give her one last chance to comply.
The full judgment can be read here.