New Judgment From Court Of Protection

Date Added 23.12.16

Earlier this week at The High Court, Justice Charles published his decision with regard to the very tragic case of Pc Paul Briggs.

Pc Briggs has been in a coma since July 2015 after he was involved in a road traffic accident and suffered a severe brain injury. Medical experts differ as to his condition one saying that he is in a persistent vegetative state and the other saying he is in a minimally conscious state to which he could regain consciousness.

The case was brought to The Court of Protection by his wife Lindsey, who stated that her husband’s wishes would be that he would not have wanted to live and that he would have wanted the withdrawal of medical treatment. At the High Court Justice Charles agreed with her and authorised that his treatment could be withdrawn. However, this may be appealed.

This case highlights the “best interest” test under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in which it states that if a person is unable to make decisions for themselves, then whoever the decision maker is (in this case the Doctors) have to act in their best interests. The medical opinion from the Doctors at The Walton Centre where Paul is being treated stated that it was in his best interests to continue life sustaining treatment.

Part of what they would have had to consider is what the families’ views were and also what Paul would have wanted himself. This is known in law as the person’s wishes, feelings and beliefs. The Walton Centre and The Official Solicitor, who were acting as litigation in person for Paul, did not agree that there was sufficient evidence to withdrawal medical treatment as no Advance Directive had been done.

Pc Briggs did not make any Advance Medical Decision or Health and Welfare Power of Attorney and therefore had not written down his wishes, feelings or beliefs, but his wife and other family members gave evidence in court to say that he had firm views about life sustaining treatment.

Justice Charles said of the family “His family and those who know him best gave evidence with courage, dignity and at considerable emotional cost to themselves that has convinced me of what Mr Briggs would have wanted and would have decided was in his best interests if he had been sitting in my chair during the hearing”

After the announcement of the decision of the case, Karon Walton Senior Associate at Tollers spoke on BBC Radio 4 about Advances Decisions and Health and Welfare Powers of Attorney. Please listen to link here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0855895

This case highlights the need for everyone over 18 to consider making their wishes known through an Advance Directive or Health and Welfare Power of Attorney, so it is clear if you were is a similar situation your views would be legally documented and hopefully would avoid the distress of your family having to go to Court.

If you create an Advanced Directive then it is still the Doctors that make the decision about your treatment, but if you create a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney you can authorise your family or other trusted person to make the decision about you instead, but both still have to consider what is in your best interests. It is recommended that you seek legal advice before creating or entering into any legal Advance Decision or Health and Welfare Power of Attorney.

To see full details of judgment please see link: Lindsey Briggs -v- Paul Briggs (By his litigation friend, the Official Solicitor) & Others  20-12-2016 04:44 PM GMT

More information on Advance Decisions and Health and Welfare Powers of Attorney please contact our specialist team at Tollers.

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