The Commission was funded by two supporters of assisted suicide, author Terry Pratchett and businessman Bernard Lewis, and despite reassurances that the running and outcome of the Commission were independent, some individuals and groups opposed to the practice regrettably refused to give evidence to the Commission. Still, the range and quantity of the evidence, which included evidence gathered from international research visits, qualitative interviews and focus groups, commissioned papers, and seminars, is impressive and can be read and watched here.
This is a case in which Philip Havers QC of 1 Crown Office Row appeared for the General Dental Council; he is not the author of this post.
The General Dental Council v Savery and others  EWHC 3011 (Admin) – Read judgment
Mr Justice Sales in the High Court has ruled that the General Dental Council’s (GDC) use and disclosure of the dental records of fourteen patients of a registered dentist who was the subject of investigation was lawful.
The court also offered general guidance about how the GDC may proceed (particularly by reference to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to privacy and family life) when it wishes to investigate allegations against a dentist of impairment of fitness to practise by reference to confidential patient records in the absence of consent from the patients in question.
When you breathed in asbestos fibres from your dusty shipbuilding job on the River Clyde in the 1950s and 1960s, some of those fibres stuck around in the lungs. Some may cause the pleural plaques seen on my image, some may cause asbestosis, and some may lead to the highly malignant mesothelioma.
So your doctor (20+ years later when these diseases manifest themselves) would X-ray you and tell you what form of the disease you had. If he told you you had pleural plaques, you would, at first, breathe a huge sigh of relief that it was not mesothelioma. Because pleural plaques are almost invariably asymptomatic and harmless.
But on second thoughts, now you know you have indeed been exposed to asbestos such that you might develop mesothelioma – and you have seen colleagues die a miserable death from that disease. So, when you leave your chest physician’s room, you are worried, not about what you have, but about what you might get. Do you get damages for this? And anyway, where do the human rights in my title – those under Article 1 of Protocol 1 to ECHR, or the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions – come into this story? Continue reading →
Dr Mattu was employed by the Trust as a consultant in non-invasive cardiology and general medicine in 1998. In 2002 he was suspended on disciplinary grounds; however, the relevant disciplinary hearing did not occur until 2007 and the suspension was in place until July 2007. Further, Dr Mattu was on sick leave for at least a year from September 2006.
On Thursday 28th July, the Supreme Court heard a “permission to appeal” argument in the British nuclear testing case. The judgment to be appealed is that of the Court of Appeal Civil Division in Ministry of Defence v AB and others EWCA Civ 1317 – (Smith and Leveson LJJ and Sir Mark Waller).
In terse legalese, the issue to be appealed is whether the Court of Appeal – (1) applied the wrong legal test for knowledge in section 14 of the Limitation Act 1980, and (2) adopted the wrong legal approach to the exercise of discretion under section 33 of the Act. The Supreme Court granted permission for the appeal – see BBC 28th July and The Independent 28th July.
Condliff, R (on the application of) v North Staffordshire Primary Care Trust  EWCA Civ 910 – Read judgment
A morbidly obese man has lost his appeal against his local Primary Care Trust’s (PCT’s) refusal to fund his anti-obesity surgery. The Court of Appeal ruled that the PCT had no obligation under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights to consider social or non-clinical factors when deciding whether to grant a request for exceptional funding.
In his discussion of the case, Lord Justice Toulson began by saying that “Human rights law is sometimes in danger of becoming over complicated“. Underlying this point is the fact that it is already complicated enough. This is a good example: how could a court find that this case, which clearly involves the dignity and family life of a man whose life is difficult and miserable, not engage the protection of human rights law? I will try to explain.
On 21 June 2011 the Divisional Court held to be “irrational and … a breach of the Claimant’s Article 6(1) right to a fair hearing” a decision by the Fitness to Practise Panel of the General Medical Council to admit hearsay evidence under its own rules, having determined that such evidence would not be admissible under the criminal rules of evidence .
Professor Bonhoeffer, described in the judgment as “an eminent consultant paediatric cardiologist of international repute”, was charged by the GMC with impairment of his fitness to practise arising from alleged serious sexual misconduct towards boys and young men in Kenya. It was alleged that over a number of years the Claimant travelled to Kenya to undertake charitable medical work and that the victims were children and young men to whom he had provided sponsorship by paying for their education and accommodation.
Yesterday Neil Howard and Rebecca Steinfeld asked via guardian.co.uk whether it is Time to ban male circumcision? The article was prompted by attempts to ban the practice in San Francisco.
Male circumcision is common amongst Muslims and Jews, but judging from the 286 comments (so far!) to the article, there are a lot of people who feel that the practice is outdated and should be banned. I have responded with my own article, arguing that whilst the debate is by no means settled, a ban at present would amount to a disproportionate interference with freedom of religion rights.
I watched Panorama’s exposé of institutional abuse of adults with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View Hospital with mounting horror. What legal mechanisms were available to prevent abuses like this, or bring justice to victims?
There can be little doubt that the acts of the carers towards the patients were inhuman and degrading, a violation of their Article 3 rights. It is highly questionable whether the establishment fulfilled their rights to privacy and dignity under Article 8, the right to private and family life.
W v. M, S, an NHS PCT and Times Newspapers Ltd.  EQHC 1197 (COP) – read judgment. In the midst of all the fuss over the last two weeks about ‘superinjunctions’ and the law on privacy (see our coverage here, here, here and here) the Court of Protection (“CoP”) has just granted an injunction imposing extensive reporting restrictions on the media in a case involving potentially controversial end-of-life issues.
The press has picked up on the decision mainly because the injunction is the first in the UK courts (and perhaps anywhere in the world) to specifically prohibit publishing restricted information on any “social network or media including Twitter or Facebook“. This is noteworthy given the recent furore about an anonymous Twitter user ‘outing’ a number of UK celebrities who had obtained injunctions (although given that Twitter is a US-based website, it is difficult to see how the order will be enforced). But the decision by Baker J is far more interesting for the way he described how the media’s free speech rights should be balanced against the parties’ privacy rights in the kind of sensitive cases dealt with by the CoP, and how he expressly distinguished it from the approach taken in celebrity cases.
R (on the application of Rajiv Puri) v Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC 970 (Admin) Judgment of Mr Justice Blair given on 15 April 2011 – Read judgment
This claim for judicial review is the latest skirmish in The Wars of the HC  9 Succession between doctors and NHS trusts about what procedural safeguards they are entitled to if investigated, suspended or dismissed for misconduct since the introduction of Maintaining High Professional Standards in the Modern NHS(MPHS) in 2005.
It is also a blow for those who believe that professionals facing serious allegations that may have adverse consequences for their ability to practise in their chosen field should be entitled to be judged by a panel independent of their employer.
Condliff, R (On the Application Of) v North Staffordshire Primary Care Trust  EWHC B8 (Admin) (07 April 2011) – Read judgment
What happens when the money for medical treatment runs out? The National Health Service has a limited budget. It also is obliged by law to provide necessary medical services to the public. Inevitably, some treatments will be considered unaffordable, and this sometimes leads to court challenges.
Two such challenges have arisen recently. One is interesting because it has been rejected (unless it is appealed) by the High Court, and the reasoning behind that rejection highlights how difficult it is to succeed in such claims, especially on human rights grounds. The other, because of the way it, and in particular its human rights aspects, has been reported. Not quite bad enough to merit placing on the legal naughty step, but not far off.
A (A Child) v Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC 454 (QB)– read judgment
A High Court judge has ruled that a seven-year-old child with severe disabilities caused by medical negligence during his birth should be the subject of an order that prohibits their identification in any newspaper report.
The order was granted in the course of a hearing to approve the settlement between the child and the defendant hospital under Part 21.10 of the Civil Procedure Rules. The judge held that there was a risk that the objective of such proceedings, namely to ensure that settlement money is properly looked after and wisely applied, would be defeated if the Claimant was identified. Further, identification of the child would curtail his and his family’s right to respect for their private and family under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights [‘ECHR’] and there was insufficient general public interest in identifying the child to justify that curtailment.
R (on the Application of AC) v Bershire West Primary Care Trust  EWCA Civ 247 – Read judgment.
The Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal of a male-to-female transsexual who was refused NHS funding for breast augmentation surgery.
The appellant, known as AC, had been diagnosed with gender identity disorder (GID) in 1996. As part of its GID treatment program the PCT had been prepared to provide genital reassignment surgery, which AC had not availed herself of.
This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.