SB (capacity assessment) [2020] EWCOP 43

This case involved an application by the Official Solicitor for the discharge of a previous direction providing for the instruction of a third independent expert psychiatrist to assess P’s capacity to make decisions about contact with other people.

During a previous judgment, the parties had requested that there be a further assessment of P’s capacity in relation to contact, all parties considering it to be necessary. The basis of this application was the belief of the Official Solicitor that P did not wish to take part in a further assessment and would find it distressing and intrusive. The Local Authority supported the application by the Official Solicitor submitting that there was no need for an assessment and that it would be detrimental to P to require her to engage in the process. P’s mother wished for the instruction to continue.

Having considered all of the evidence before her and the written and oral submissions, Her Honour Judge Anderson discharged the direction for the assessment of P in relation to capacity to make decisions for contact. She concluded that there was no need for such an assessment because: 1) no party wished the court to make any decisions about best interests in relation to P’s contact with others; 2) there was no evidence that P was currently at risk from third parties or was engaged in activity which would draw them to her; and 3) there was a real risk to P’s emotional well-being if such an assessment was allowed to proceed.

The full judgement can be read here

If you have any questions regarding this summary case law please contact Julie Fitzpatrick here