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Published 3 October 2018
The Court of Protection has heavily criticised and ordered costs against a local authority and CCG for a delay of more than three years in organising the repatriation of a Colombian woman (MCS) who lacked mental capacity after suffering cardiac arrest resulting in hypoxic brain injury while living in the UK.
MCS was a 55 year old Colombian woman who suffered a cardiac arrest with resulting hypoxic brain injury in May 2014. She was admitted to London's Royal Hospital for Neurodisability but consistently expressed a wish to be repatriated to Colombia to be near her family and to be cared for by Spanish speaking clinicians. She was deemed medically fit for discharge at the end of 2014 but remained in hospital for a further three years before finally returning to Colombia in January 2018.
The court was deeply critical of how the Local Authority and CCG handled this case both before and during the court proceedings. In his Judgment, Mr Justice Newton wrote that 'whilst I have no doubt that the [Local Authority] and/or [the CCG] believe they worked tirelessly, the bald fact is that they did not'. He described their attempts to organise the repatriation as 'ineffectual, even amateur' and said that 'To submit that the CCG was "throughout commendably assiduous" in seeking the return to Colombia is about as misplaced and offensive a submission as could possibly be contemplated.'
The court then ordered that the Local Authority and CCG bear the entirety of the costs of the proceedings. Costs decisions in the Court of Protection are rare – reflecting the inquisitorial and non-adversarial nature of the proceedings. In this case, however, Newton J concluded 'without hesitation' that the circumstances of the case were 'so poor and so extreme' that they justified an adverse costs order. The reasons for this were twofold:
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