Supreme Court Ruling: Doctors & Families Able to End Life Without Judge’s Consent

Posted on September 19, 2018

Decision ruled by The Supreme Court confirming agreement between families and doctors should be sufficient when deciding to end treatment for patients in a vegetative state. 

Background to the case:

Experts deemed that a man, aged 52, who can only be identified as Mr Y and who had been in a vegetative state since June 2017 would likely never regain consciousness following his cardiac arrest which resulted in an extensive brain injury.

The experts agreed with the family members’ decision to withdraw his nutrition and hydration. This is something that usually requires approval from the Court of Protection.

Impact of the case:

A High Court Judge ruled in November 2017 that it was not necessary for the matter to be brought to Court.

Mr Y died in December, but an appeal was granted in favour of a Solicitor who acted on behalf of people who lack capacity, due to the importance of the issues raised by the case.

However, justices at the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest Court, have now unanimously dismissed the appeal.

Although Mr Y had not drawn up any advance decision as to whether to refuse treatment, his family and medical team agreed it would be in Mr Y’s best interests to withdraw the feeding tubes.

By arranging a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare decisions, you can control whether or not you give your Attorneys the authority to refuse life sustaining treatment.

If you would like advice on Lasting Powers of Attorney, please contact Gill Tobin or Emma Blakesley on 01702 443 484 in our Probate Team.