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I am a solicitor in the Public Law & Human Rights department at Irwin Mitchell. I joined Irwin Mitchell as a trainee solicitor in 2011 and qualified into the department in 2013.
I specialise in administrative and public law, helping individuals to secure statutory services and to investigate or challenge decisions which have been made by public bodies.
I act on behalf of vulnerable adults and their families in health and welfare disputes within the Court of Protection, when the Court is asked to decide what is in the best interests of an individual who lacks the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.
I represent disabled adults and children in judicial review proceedings concerning local authorities' duties to provide them with sufficient care and support. I also act in cases which challenge local government policies or statutory guidance, where these appear to be unlawful or discriminatory.
I also specialise in education law. I act in disputes which relate to an individual's education provision, including challenges to education provision for children with Special Educational Needs.
“We have been instructed to act on behalf of a minor and their family as they seek to challenge Northamptonshire County Council’s decision to shut 21 libraries across the county.
“Many people using the library services are children, or are elderly, disabled, or from low income households and they may struggle to access the library provision in larger towns.
“These cuts are extensive and our client is concerned that this will have a very significant impact upon their ability to access a library service and the impact on local residents, many of whom live in rural areas. Our clients believe that, if implemented, these cuts will have a huge detrimental impact on the local community in Northamptonshire.
“We have lodged an application with the High Court for a judicial review and an urgent hearing. Our client considers that the council failed to carry out a lawful public consultation into the proposals and has not conducted a full and lawful assessment of how vulnerable people will be affected.
“Further, the council has not considered how to promote and safeguard the welfare of local children, has not taken into account various factors that should have impacted upon its decision, and has failed to comply with its duty to ensure there is a comprehensive library service in the county. All councils must comply with this duty, and our client considers that a closure of over half the county’s libraries will not result in a comprehensive library service.”
“We have been instructed by the Save Desborough Library Campaign Group to establish whether Northamptonshire County Council’s consultation and decision making is lawful.
“It is vital that the council consults residents, and makes its final decision, in a lawful and fair manner. Any flaws in the consultation and decision making process may ultimately be subject to judicial review proceedings.
“This is obviously a very important issue and whilst we appreciate that local authorities are experiencing budget and resourcing pressures, the scale of the proposed library closures is significant, and it is therefore unsurprising that so many local residents are so worried about the future of these invaluable services.”
“We have acted for families across the country in cases concerning serious medical treatment issues or life and death decisions. It is hoped that this judgment will significantly clarify the law in this area and ensure that those with terminal or life limiting illnesses are treated with dignity and respect in the final stages of their lives.
“Our client’s family witnessed a much-loved daughter, wife and mother deteriorate to the point where she no longer seemed to be aware of the world around her, or recognise her loved ones who regularly visited her in hospital and helped care for her.
“Our client had lived in hospital for over 20 years and her family and hospital staff provided dedicated care and support to her throughout her slow decline.
“Huntington’s Disease is an extremely cruel disease and when her condition reached the point when she had no quality of life remaining, and appeared unaware of the world around her, her family felt that her feeding tube which was keeping her alive, should be withdrawn.
“Although doctors agreed with the family that this would be the best thing for our client, the case took a long time to be resolved because of the legal uncertainty as to whether the case needed to be brought to the Court for permission. Our client’s doctors spent many months gathering evidence and instructing an external expert for this purpose. Eventually our client’s mother approached us so that she could issue the case at the court herself. She recognised the hospital staff were doing an excellent job but that the lack of clarity about the legal position was causing delay and distress.
“This judgment has great legal significance in that if relatives and doctors are in agreement, and after following the medical guidelines issued by the Royal College of Physicians (1) it is agreed that withdrawal of treatment is in the patient’s best interests, the court has confirmed that there is no legal requirement for a court order before the treatment can be withdrawn. Doctors and patients will be acting in accordance with the law, set down by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. This will allow those suffering with terrible diseases such as Huntington’s, or other terminal or life limiting illnesses, to pass away with dignity, easing the suffering and pain for all involved.”
“There are legal mechanisms which hospitals and councils can use to try and resolve disputes over a child’s best interests, and what medical treatment they should receive. It was not appropriate in this case for our client to have been placed on a child protection plan and for her family to have been accused of ‘neglect’.
“This led to a situation where there was a complete impasse in providing care to her, and she remained without medical treatment for over a year. Naturally our client is delighted that the High Court has confirmed that the decision taken by the Council was unlawful, and that this never should have happened.
“Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident and as a firm we have seen other cases in the past where local authorities have placed disabled children on child protection plans instead of meeting their needs as a disabled “child in need”.
“Although this latest judgment is obviously specific to the facts of this particular case, this judgment should hopefully provide a warning to other local authorities to ensure they work with families, consider the purpose of the child protection measures, and lawfully apply the relevant guidance, when making these decisions in future.”
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