Inherent Jurisdiction cases - Two Judgments Handed Down By Cobb J

In two judgments delivered today, 5 September, Cobb J has provided important clarification as to the limits of the inherent jurisdiction.  Further details and commentary will be provided in the next Mental Capacity Report due out in a couple of weeks' time, but in summary the clarifications are:

  • In Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council v PR & Ors [2019] EWHC 2305 (Fam), Cobb J has confirmed that before a Local Authority makes an application under the court's inherent jurisdiction which is designed to regulate the conduct of the person by way of injunction, particularly where mental illness or vulnerability is an issue, it should demonstrate (and support with evidence) that it has appropriately considered whether the person:
    1. is likely to understand the purpose of the injunction;
    2. will receive knowledge of the injunction; and
    3. will appreciate the effect of breach of that injunction.
If the answer to any of these questions is in the negative, the injunction is likely to be ineffectual, and should not be applied for or granted as no consequences can truly flow from the breach.
  • In Wakefield MDC & Wakefield CCG v DN & others [2019] EWHC 2306 (Fam), Cobb J has confirmed that the inherent jurisdiction is targeted at those whose ability to make decisions has been compromised by matters other than those covered by the MCA 2005. It cannot be deployed to deprive a capacitous adult of their liberty. The judgment recognises a person's legal capacity to make decisions when faced with stark choices. And it provides for anticipatory declarations under the MCA 2005 during a person's 'meltdowns'."
Neil Allen appeared in the Wakefield case and Alex Ruck Keene in the Redcar case.