The Supreme Court has granted leave to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to exercise its amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) function in a case which involves a woman in a nursing home who is a ward of court.
Representatives of the detained women (AC) have been granted permission to appeal the case, as it involves the question of the interaction of historic legislation grounding the wardship jurisdiction of the High Court, with modern mental health legislation.
The Supreme Court will consider whether the existing High Court order to make her a ward of court is valid, and whether her detention is lawful.
The case will likely explore the nature and extent of the rights and protections afforded to people with mental health disabilities in Ireland. Its outcome will have an impact on voluntary patients in nursing home and hospital settings
The Commission will contribute expertise gained in recent landmark cases L v Clinical Director of Saint Patrick’s Hospital and Ors, which clarified the rights of voluntary patients in approved centres, and AB v Clinical Director of Saint Loman’s and Ors, which found s.15(3) of the Mental Health Act 2001to be unconstitutional.
Emily Logan of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said “Through recent work in the Court of Appeal, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has played a significant role in clarifying the rights of people being detained voluntarily or involuntarily under Irish law.
“This case before the Supreme Court considers the situation of vulnerable people who are wards of court and is likely to have significant implications for people whose ability to make decisions regarding their significant life choice, including their care is in dispute.”