39 Essex Street Court of Protection February Newsletter

The excellent 39 Essex Street Court of Protection Newsletter for February is now out.  I can’t recommend this newsletter enough, not just for keeping up to date with Court of Protection cases but also for interesting commentary and round up of cases you might have overlooked.  It also discusses some cases not yet published elsewhere.  You can find it, along with older editions, here:


Excellent commentaries on the case of ‘Alan’ (which I discussed in this post).  Edited highlights:

Vikram Sachdeva says:

The correct test for capacity to consent to sexual relations is a highly controversial topic. The answer depends on an examination of the philosophical basis underlying incapacity law – specifically whether it is justified (on a utilitarian basis) to prevent significant sections of the population from indulging in sexual activity in order to prevent abuse in a small number of cases, or whether fewer should be barred from sexual activity, but with a risk of abuse in a small number of cases which would have otherwise been avoided.

Victoria Butler-Cole points out that:

The law on capacity to consent to sexual relations is in disarray. This decision conflicts with the recent decision of Wood J in LS, and it is difficult to see how the two judgments can be reconciled (or how this judgment can be reconciled with that of the House of Lords in R v Cooper [2009] 1 WLR 1786.


If this decision is correct, it is clear that the criminal test for capacity under s.30 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the civil test are not the same; a point which was not acknowledged in A‟s case. It may also, counter-intuitively, impose more restrictions on people with learning disabilities rather than promote their sexual freedom, since where an exploitative or abusive relationship exists, the inclination may well be to „fail‟ the individual on the test for capacity (as there is inevitably a degree of flexibility about how much knowledge of, for example, STIs, is required). This could then result in a global declaration preventing sexual contact for the individual in other, non-exploitative contexts. Local authorities and those working in this area can only hope that the issue does receive consideration by the Court of Appeal in the near future.


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