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Court of Protection rules that reporting restrictions can continue after death

V v Associated Newspapers Ltd & Ors [2016] EWCOP 21

The Court of Protection ruled on 25th April 2016 that where a restriction on publication of information about proceedings was in place during a person’s lifetime, the court has a duty to consider whether this restriction should remain following that person’s death.

The background to the case was that a C, a woman in her 50s had refused dialysis after suffering from kidney failure due to a failed suicide attempt.  A year earlier, the Court of Protection had ruled that an adult patient who suffered from no mental incapacity had a right to choose whether to consent to medical treatment.  There was significant media interest in the case, in particular concerning C’s sexual and relationship history and a court order had been issued which restricted reporting of the case. 

In the current case, the judge ruled that this restriction should continue, even after C had passed away.  The Article 8 rights of the deceased’s family were engaged and her two daughters were distressed by the proceedings and extensive media interest. 

Mr Justice Charles stated that, ‘fair and accurate reporting is vital if the public interest is to be promoted and I acknowledge that whether something is fair involves a value judgment and does not equate to it being balanced.’

While Article 10, which protects the freedom of the press was also relevant, the matters were private in nature and court could not act in a way that was incompatible with the Convention rights of the deceased’s family.

Read UK Human Rights Law Blog article here.

ECHR Art. 8, Media