Human Rights Lawyer "Bitterly Disappointed" with Lords Ruling Over Protection for Care Home Residents

Lords rule Human Rights Act not applicable to residents of private care homes

03.01.2007

 

In a ruling given today, the House of Lords has held that the Human Rights Act ds not extend to provide protection for elderly and disabled people placed by local authorities into private residential care homes. The decision will be seen as a controversial ruling which leaves some of the most vulnerable people in society without human rights protection with regard to their care.

The House of Lords split 3:2 in a narrow ruling which saw the most senior Law Lord, Lord Bingham, rule in favour of extending the Human Rights Act to cover an 84 year old Alzheimer's patient who was threatened with eviction from her private care home

Lord Bingham said in support of the argument that the Human Rights Act applied to people placed in residential care homes by public authorities, that despite the intensive regulation around private care homes ¦it is not unknown that senile and helpless residents of such homes are subjected to treatment which may threaten their survival, may amount to inhumane treatment, may deprive them unjustifiably of their liberty and may seriously and unnecessarily infringe their personal autonomy and family relationships.

There are currently over 300,000 private care home residents placed there by a public authority (1) with over 91% of care homes in England and Wales owned and run by the private and voluntary sector (2).

The Human Rights Act covers public authorities and those performing public functions. The House of Lords considered the argument that the Human Rights Act should apply to residents in the homes of private sector care providers who have been placed in the care home, and are funded by, local authorities under their statutory duties.

YL is represented by the Official Solicitor who instructs Yogi Amin of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors on behalf of YL.

Yogi Amin, leading Human Rights lawyer said: "We are bitterly disappointed by this narrow defeat, and that the three judges in the House of Lords who ruled against us did not accept the arguments supported by the Government that the Human Rights Act was always intended to apply to cases such as the case of our client YL

Given the importance of this issue, and the fact that it applies to so many elderly and disabled people in society, we intend to look at all options in continuing in this fight to have the Human Rights Act applied to cover the most vulnerable people in society.

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