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Important CoP case regarding capacity and contraception02.11.17

A Hospital Trust & Otrs v Miss V & Otrs [2017] EWCOP 20

Court of Protection specialist Ella Anderson represented the local authority in an application by a Hospital Trust for declarations and orders that it was in Miss V’s best interests to receive non-thereupeutic contraception.  Miss V was a vulnerable young woman with a significant learning disability who had become pregnant.  It was accepted by all parties that she lacked capacity to consent to sexual relations or to make decisions about contraception. Miss V struggled with the experience and interventions associated with pregnancy and was significantly traumatised by the removal of the baby at birth.

The Hospital Trust and Local Authority contended that in addition to the safeguarding protection plan which had been put in place, in the circumstances of this particular case an ‘added layer of protection’ by way of non-invasive, reversible contraception should also be utilised. The application was opposed by the Official Solicitor on Miss V’s behalf and also by Miss V’s mother. Cobb J found that  “The safeguarding plan is designed to reduce the risk of sexual exploitation particularly outside of the home; contraception is proposed to reduce the risk of pregnancy in the event that the plan fails.  If this additional safeguard can be introduced without undue side effects, and is a safeguard which Miss V is not unwilling to accept, then the best interests balance tilts in favour of its use.

The Judge was clear that his decision was taken in the context of Miss V’s unique situation and ‘wholly rejected’ the submission on behalf of the Official Solicitor that by declaring contraception in Miss V’s best interests the court would in one way or another be setting a precedent for all incapacitous and vulnerable women.

The full judgment available here.