Re S's Application for Judicial Review ; Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Butler-Sloss, Lord Justice Phillips and Lord Justice Waller) 3 July 1997
Where an application for leave to move for judicial review raised questions of public importance in relation to the interpretation of section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983 and its application to a pregnant woman, who suffered from a physical condition which posed a risk both to her and her unborn child but who refused medical treatment, leave was exceptionally granted despite delay in bringing the proceedings.
The Court of Appeal granted the applicant leave to move for judicial review of the decision of the first respondent to admit and detain her under section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983 for the purpose of assessment in a hospital under the control of the second respondent; and to challenge her detention by the second respondent, her transfer to and detention in a hospital under the control of the third respondent, the caesarian section performed on her there, and her transfer back to the first hospital. Leave to move had been refused by Mr Justice Popplewell on the ground of delay. Richard Gordon QC and Barbara Hewson (Leigh Day & Co) for the applicant; Beverley Lang (Solicitor, Merton Borough Council) for the first respondent; Philip Havers QC and Monica Carrs-Frisk (Bevan Ashford, Bristol) for the second and third respondents. Lord Justice Butler-Sloss said that the applicant, who had a deep-seated aversion to medical intervention, had become pregnant in September 1995 and had not sought antenatal care until the eighth month of her pregnancy, when she was found to be suffering from severe pre-eclampsia. That posed a risk to her life and to the unborn child. Immediate admission to hospital was recommended. The applicant refused to be admitted or to have treatment. The first respondent, an approved social worker, felt she had no choice but to detain her in accordance with the provisions of section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983. She was admitted to one hospital and then transferred to another. …