The European Court of Human Rights had found the UK to have violated a disabled woman’s rights and had fined the country £3700 in costs and expenses. The woman was given 14 days to challenge her detention in an English hospital, but she lacked the mental capacity to proceed with her complaint.
The case happened in 2003 and the applicant, who was a British National, was detained for 28 days in an English hospital for assessment. MH, her initials, was given an order for discharge by her mother. However, the hospital detained MH because they said they feared the welfare of the mother and daughter should they release the woman.
The Rights of the Disabled
Anybody with incapacity, both physical and mental, could have their “nearest relative”, which includes their guardian or not-blood related companion, special status to act for them on their behalf under the Mental Health Act of 1983. However, the UK hospital had refused to grant this right to the mother.
MH was discharged six months after she was detained and her case was never reviewed. Her representative complained that under article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the right to liberty, the lawfulness of her right to challenge her detention was violated.
She complained about the displacement of a ‘nearest relative’ to be granted special status and the indefinite detention she had in the hospital was unjustifiable.
According to experts, the problem was obvious because with no one to enact action for herself, even her own mother stripped of the right, a human rights law was violated, regardless of due process.
Experts said that the English hospital was probably working under strict code of ethics, but bordered on the lines of legal rights. The law could not decide for an individual not unless a declared relative could represent them. The same is true for all litigation cases concerning injuries with the person temporarily disabled to represent him or herself.
A disadvantage was to be given equal footing to ensure that all human rights are properly observed, said a legal representative. In this case, the English hospital failed to consider the ability of the guardian or “nearest relative” to care for the disabled.