Court of Protection, London: Peterson Jackson, J. in a matter before the Court of Protection recently ruled that legal permission is not always necessary from a court before life-supporting system is withdrawn from patients suffering chronically enfeebling illness. In this case, a 50 year old woman was suffering for more than 20 years form Huntington’s disease – an inherited neurological condition that is progressive, incurable and ultimately fatal.

She had been permanently in hospital since 2003 now and was receiving all the required care from her family and hospital. However, looking at her deteriorating condition, he family members and doctors taking care of her had agreed that her life support system should end. The Judge ruled that in future, Judges should not be required to make rulings in such cases where relatives and doctors were in agreement to end the life support system and all medical requirements had been followed after going through the statement of M’s husband, daughter, mother and the medical opinion. He clearly ruled that permission of the court is not always necessary.

Also, the Court discussed the concept of litigation friend to decide if Mrs. B-M’s mother who had approached the Court was eligible to do so or not. The Court ruled that she was eligible to litigate on her friend’s behalf while explaining Rule 140 of the Court of Protection Rules 2007 which provides that a person may act as a litigation friend if he (a) can fairly and competently conduct proceedings on behalf of that person, and (b) has no interests adverse to those of that person. Going through all the facts and circumstances, it was decided that Mrs B was a suitable litigation friend. [M v. A Hospital, 2017 EWCOP 19, decided on 20th September, 2017]

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