Whether in the High Court or the Court of Protection, judges considering medical treatment cases have as their focus the best interests of the person who is the subject of the proceedings.* While the procedural rules must of course be observed, the need to achieve the right result for that person requires an emphasis on substance over form. Translating parties’ proposals for case-management into workable directions often requires considerable thought and imagination. Resourcefulness is also required in order to capitalise on any possibility of reaching agreement on the substantive issues. But if agreement cannot be reached, differences of opinion as to the desired outcome should not stand in the way of as much co-operation as possible in working out how best to investigate and ventilate the issues in the case.
*Or in the rare ‘vulnerable adult’ case, the court’s focus is protecting the interests and facilitating the choices of the vulnerable but capable adult.
This article is adapted from Medical Treatment: Decisions and the Law, Third Edition written by members of Serjeants’ Inn Chambers, and edited by Christopher Johnston QC. This title is also available as part of a subscription on Bloomsbury Law Online.