Transgender father to appeal for greater contact with ultra orthodox children

J v B (Ultra-Orthodox Judaism: Transgender) [2017] EWFC 4 (30 January 2017) – read judgment

The Court of Appeal has granted permission to the father to appeal against the decision of the High Court earlier this year. Briefly, Peter Jackson J denied a father, who now lives as a transgender person, direct contact with his five children who live with their mother in the heart of a Charedi community of ultra-orthodox Jews.

The judge said that he had reached the “unwelcome conclusion”

that the likelihood of the children and their mother being marginalised or excluded by the ultra-Orthodox community is so real, and the consequences so great, that this one factor, despite its many disadvantages, must prevail over the many advantages of contact.

The appeal hearing, estimated to last one day, will take place on 15 November 2017. Continue reading

Charlie Gard: Strasbourg Court rules parents’ case inadmissible

Yates v United Kingdom –  here

Update: On 27 June the Strasbourg Court ruled the application by Charlie Gard as inadmissible. The full decision is not yet up on the Court’s website but here is the press release detailing the Inadmissibility decision in the case Gard and Others v. the UK – decisions by UK courts endorsed A spokesman for the Great Ormond Street Hospital said:

Today’s decision by the European Court of Human Rights marks the end of what has been a very difficult process and our priority is to provide every possible support to Charlie’s parents as we prepare for the next steps.

The Strasbourg Court by a majority endorsed in substance the approach by the UK courts, saying that they had been “meticulous” in their reasoning. It is likely that Charlie’s life support will now be withdrawn and he will be given palliative care only.

Following the Strasbourg Court’s request for interim measures for the UK – which means the hospital may not take Charlie Gard off life support as the Supreme Court has allowed it to do – the Supreme Court arranged a short hearing to take place Monday 19 June, to give directions. The Strasbourg Court has now put in place a further request that treatment and nursing care be continued beyond its original deadline of 19 June (see the press release from Strasbourg here: Gard and Others v. the UK) . This is because that Court has to consider the parents’ application that the case does not just concern Charlie’s right to die with dignity but their rights under Article 8 as his parents to be afforded respect for their decisions as to what is in Charlie’s interests.

This is a unique situation facing the Supreme Court, and, probably, the judges of the European Court of Human Rights.  As the UK court acknowledges, by granting a stay, even of short duration, it would “in some sense” be complicit in directing a course of action which is contrary to Charlie’s best interests, since this was its last word on the matter. It is no wonder that this is causing some soul-searching. The Strasbourg Court’s interim measures order is directed at the government, not Great Ormond Street Hospital or its doctors. The latter won a ruling from the Supreme Court that they should remove life support from Charlie Gard because it is considered to be in violation of his right to die with dignity, and, of course, not in his best interests.  Continue reading

NI Abortion Refugees: further thoughts


R (o.t.a A and B) v. Department of Health [2017] UKSC 41, 14 June 2017 – judgment here; previous post here.

Was it unlawful for the Secretary of State for Health, who had power to make provisions for the functioning of the National Health Service in England, to have failed to make a provision which would have enabled women who were citizens of the UK, but who were usually resident in Northern Ireland, to undergo a termination of pregnancy under the NHS in England free of charge?

No, said the Supreme Court (Lord Wilson, who gave the lead judgment, and Lords Reed and Hughes, but with Lord Kerr and Lady Hale dissenting).

Background law and facts

The law on abortion in Northern Ireland is governed by the Northern Ireland Assembly. Abortion is only lawful there if there is a threat of long term psychiatric or physical injury to the mother. As this is difficult to prove, a steady stream of women come from Northern Ireland to secure abortions, mostly from private clinics that charge a fee for the service as they are unable to obtain a termination free of charge under the English NHS. Continue reading

Northern Ireland abortion refugees: Supreme Court

 R (o.t.a A and B) v. Department of Health [2017] UKSC 41, 14 June 2017 – judgment here. 

Sometimes The Law comes to the rescue. And by this I do not mean constitutional law versus populism or the rule of law versus raw-knuckled fighting.  It just happens that, occasionally, litigation drawn from ordinary life encapsulates more political debating points than a week’s worth of press analysis.

If you want to hear the real deal about devolved government, Northern Ireland, sexual assault, the meaning of “England”, abortion, federalism, the power of the state, healthcare, medical tourism, women’s rights, discrimination, nationality, social security or the NHS, you need do no more than read this case. As for the majority judgments and the two dissenters, pay close attention to the language because within the phrasing other truths emerge.

Continue reading

Alternative treatment for seriously ill child not in his best interests

Yates and Anor v Great Ormond Street for Children [2017] EWCA Civ 410, 23 May 2017 – read judgment

On Thursday 8 June the Supreme Court will be asked to grant permission to appeal in this case of a seriously ill 9 month old child whose parents wish to take him to the USA for experimental treatment that may slow his deterioration.

The human issues are all over the press – this post will concentrate on the legal arguments in the Courts below, including the very recently published judgment of the Court of Appeal.

Perhaps the most interesting question in this case is not the statutory or human rights background, but the issue of jurisdiction. The court has as part of its inherent jurisdiction to rule on the child’s fate on the basis of his best interests. The appellants were arguing that this was not the test; that the question at the core of the consideration was that of “serious harm”. The parents argue that

the hospital’s application to prevent the delivery of a therapy which it did not, itself, intend to provide, was outside its powers as a public authority, and the court had no jurisdiction to uphold the hospital’s position.

Continue reading

More on junior doctors’ liability: audio.

FB v. Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust [2017] EWCA Civ 334, 12 May 2017, Court of Appeal – read judgment

The UK Human Rights Blog is not only for the reading eye. Here’s an audio version of David Hart’s post on the case of a junior doctor, a sick baby and the question of what we expect of senior house officers on busy Accident and Emergency admissions.

These audio files will soon be searchable in iTunes or wherever you like to find your podcasts for download onto your phone, to listen to on the train, in the gym, on your bike or gardening. We will let you know as soon as they become available.

The Round-Up audio version – who’s on the Rights-side this election?

Here’s an audio version of Poppy Rimington-Pounder’s post this week where she expands on some of the developments and news items she covers in conversation with Rosalind English. We hope soon to have a podcast platform for these news roundups and other interviews with members of 1 Crown Office Row: watch this space.