“Overbearing” Mother of Schizophrenic Man Criticised by Judge
A judge has found that a mother used undue influence to compel her mentally ill son to refuse medical treatment. Last week Mrs Justice Hogg declared that a decision made by the man to refuse psychiatric drugs and electroconvulsive therapy was invalid.
The man, who is a paranoid schizophrenic, had signed an advance decision refusing any “psychiatric physically invasive treatment” including psychiatric drugs, electroconvulsive therapy and “psycho surgery” nearly two years ago. Social services and doctors involved in his care were deeply concerned and so the local authority made an application to the Court of Protection, on the basis that he lacked the mental capacity to make such a complex decision about his treatment.
Mrs Justice Hogg decided that the man’s “forceful” mother had exerted undue influence on him. The court was told that the mother was unable to get legal aid; she initially represented herself before solicitors agreed to represent her at the final hearing free of charge.
The mother was described by the judge in her ruling as “powerful” and “emotional”. She believed that anti psychotic drugs were “harmful and toxic” for her son – her views were well known to him and “her ability to overbear him” was considerable, in the judge’s opinion.
The man had been in a serious accident more than 15 years ago and is a wheelchair bound tetraplegic.
“This is an unusual decision because ‘undue influence’ is more often associated with Will disputes and cases involving financial abuse and it can be a very difficult allegation to prove. I suspect that in this case there was a breakdown in the relationship between the man’s mother and the medical professionals involved in treating him. The judge, after weighing all of the evidence, clearly considered that it was in the man’s best interests to overrule his advance decision.”
The Court of Protection deals with cases involving people who lack mental capacity to make decisions either through illness or injury. It was established by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and its aim is to support and empower those who lack mental capacity as well as to safeguard their human rights.
Sarah Young adds: –
“The role of the Court of Protection is often misunderstood, especially by the Daily Mail; it’s not a secret court which stamps on individuals rights, it is has a vital role to play in protecting and safeguarding the most vulnerable members of our society.”
Sarah Young is a Partner with Ridley & Hall solicitors in Huddersfield and specialises in Court of Protection disputes and Will disputes. Sarah has a record of bringing the most complex cases to a successful conclusion.
For further information please contact Sarah Young of Ridley and Hall, Queens House, 35 Market Street, Huddersfield HD1 2HL on 01484 538838 or mobile 07860 165850.