Recite Me

Additional safeguards are needed to ensure that disabled people are not deprived of their liberty, the UK's highest court has ruled.
In a test case on the conditions under which three individuals are living, the supreme court said that their medical conditions did not entitle the state to deny them their human rights.
Lady Hale, deputy president of the court, said that the state had a duty to care for disabled people. The fact that disabled people might be deprived of liberty in care facilities, where living arrangements were comfortable, made no difference. A gilded cage, she said, was still a cage.
The supreme court ruled that all three – a severely incapacitated man and two severely mentally handicapped sisters – had been "deprived of their liberty" under the terms of mental health legislation. The decision overturned an earlier appeal court ruling.
"It is axiomatic that people with disabilities, both mental and physical, have the same human rights as the rest of the human race," said Hale.
"It may be that those rights have sometimes to be limited or restricted because of their disabilities, but the starting point should be the same as that for everyone else. This flows inexorably from the universal character of human rights, founded on the inherent dignity of all human beings.
"Far from disability entitling the state to deny such people human rights: rather it places upon the state (and upon others) the duty to make reasonable accommodation to cater for the special needs of those with disabilities. Those rights include the right to physical liberty … This is not a right to do or to go where one pleases. It is a more focused right, not to be deprived of that physical liberty.
"But, as it seems to me, what it means to be deprived of liberty must be the same for everyone, whether or not they have physical or mental disabilities.
"If it would be a deprivation of my liberty to be obliged to live in a particular place, subject to constant monitoring and control, only allowed out with close supervision, and unable to move away without permission even if such an opportunity became available, then it must also be a deprivation of the liberty of a disabled person."
She added: "The fact that my living arrangements are comfortable, and indeed make my life as enjoyable as it could possibly be, should make no difference. A gilded cage is still a cage."
Periodic checks are needed to ensure that the arrangements made for them are in their best interests, she concluded. Charities working with disabled people said it was a landmark for the protection of vulnerable people.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission welcomed the ruling. Its chief legal officer, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said: "We intervened in this case because we wanted to clarify the extent of protection for people with disabilities. This decision makes it clear that care arrangements must be checked and gives protection to the most vulnerable in society."
Mathieu Culverhouse, a specialist court of protection lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who acted for the mother of one of the claimants, said: "This judgment provides much needed clarity on the issue of deprivation of liberty. The Supreme Court has provided a simple test to decide if the individual is deprived of their liberty which will be far easier to apply than the previous test and which will afford far greater protection to vulnerable people.
"The mother [of the disabled man] welcomes this ruling, as it now gives her the peace of mind that her son's placement will be reviewed regularly to ensure that the restrictions placed on him are appropriate and in his best interests.This case now sets a precedent that anyone who meets the new legal test will be considered to be deprived of their liberty and subject to a protective care regime."
Professor Phil Fennell, of Cardiff Law School said: "The ruling … will result in many more people being eligible for the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. However, it is highly unlikely that the present complex and bureaucratic system will be able to cope with the increased numbers of people entitled to safeguards. Lady Hale's judgment adds weight to calls from the House of Lords select committee on the Mental Capacity Act 2005 last week for the safeguards to be replaced with procedures which provide an independent check on a person's care, but which are more in keeping with the ethos of the Act."
Professor Wayne Martin, of the Essex University autonomy project, said: "The protections which the Supreme Court has granted [to the claimants] are specifically related to the fact that their care is being undertaken at the expense of the State. A disabled person who was similarly restricted at home, or in a privately funded care-home, would not be entitled to the same protections, even if their objective circumstances were the same.
"So there is an element of the 'postcode lottery' still at work here. In looking forward, we will need to think about how to protect the rights of disabled persons who are receiving care outside the state-financed system."
(Extract from The Guardian)