Health Law Expertise_1820X683

Medical law

We are on hand when and where required, providing prompt and reliable advice on complex and sensitive cases.

Our market-leading healthcare team has been at the forefront of medical law for over 30 years. The team advise on the most sensitive and challenging cases, involving emergency treatment decisions, mental health and the treatment of vulnerable people, including children. We strive to remain at the cutting edge as this dynamic sector evolves.

Our experienced team based across the UK, Republic of Ireland and Asia Pacific, including Hong Kong and Australia combine sensitivity to patients’ needs with a focus to ensure their best interests are protected and wishes taken into account, whilst also supporting treating clinicians at these profoundly difficult times.

We are regularly instructed on high profile confidential cases that make a very real impact to people’s lives, including their welfare, health, medical treatment, and finances, such as high profile investigations, inquests, judicial reviews, medical treatment decisions and deprivations of liberty.

We are experts in the field of medical law and work in partnership with our clients to provide a range of specialist educational in-house training.

Our clients include the NHS (Acute Trusts, Mental Health Trusts, CCGs and primary care services), NHS Resolution, private healthcare providers, international hospitals and clinics and insurers.

Our medical law services:

  • Consent to treatment and complex decision-making under the Mental Capacity Act (MCA), Mental Health Act and Children Act
  • The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) and the transition to the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS), including s21a applications
  • Best interest disputes in relation to treatment
  • Inherent jurisdiction matters
  • Consent to treatment
  • Mental health
  • Mental capacity
  • Inquests
  • Court of Protection and family court advice and representation
  • Human rights legislation
  • Treatment of children
  • Our advice and expertise includes the relevant Acts in other jurisdictions in which we have a health law presence.

We have over 30 years experience working closely with mental health providers, commissioners and professionals advising on the legal frameworks surrounding mental health issues which can be complex and difficult to navigate.

Our team provide general mental health law advice concerning issues of completion of statutory paperwork, unlawful detention, treatment of detained patients without consent, treatment of patients under hospital orders, safeguarding issues and more general policy and procedural advice.

We also have extensive experience of dealing with high profile mental health matters including inquests (particularly concerning mental health patients in hospitals, detention centres and prisons); Court of Protection proceedings; civil and criminal trials; judicial reviews and Deprivation of Liberty applications.

Our specialist inquest team advise and represent healthcare bodies on the most complex and sensitive matters, sometimes at very short notice, including detained and community patients and prison deaths, which sadly include various deaths by suicide and deaths whilst in the custody of prisons and NHS Trusts as public bodies. Such inquests involve public and private healthcare sector providers, prisons and detention centres. We support witnesses who are unfamiliar with the coroner’s court and have never given evidence before throughout the court process. We advocate on behalf of healthcare providers and manage any media attention.

We regularly provide urgent and emergency advice to healthcare providers on difficult medical treatment decisions, such as the treatment of patients lacking the required mental capacity for the specific treatment decision in question and of mental health patients for their physical conditions. We have acted on numerous cases concerning the withdrawal of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration; and on the treatment, without consent, of pregnant women with mental disorders in need of caesarean sections.

We defend claims for Judicial review on behalf of healthcare providers – including concerning the provision of specific treatment not on offer and in relation to the alleged unlawful detention of mental health patients.

Our work highlights

  • Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (1) and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (2) v RD [2022] EWCOP 47. Kennedys acted for the acute Trust in this desperately sad case. RD, a young adult in her mid-20s had fluctuating capacity. She was in a cycle of self-harm to such extent the High Court agreed it was in her best interests for clinicians to provide no further lifesaving treatment in the event she self-harmed again and required such treatment. This was despite the fact life-saving treatment was available.
  • Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v AH [2021] EWCOP 64. Kennedys acted for the Trust in obtaining a declaration that it was no longer in the patient’s best interests to receive ventilatory support and that it was lawful for that to be withdrawn. This case went to the Court of Appeal and concerned a 56 year old patient, who “in terms of the neurological impact and complications” was described as “the most complex COVID-19 patient in the world”.
  • Tafida Raqeeb v Barts Health NHS Trust and others (2019). Kennedys acted for Barts in this complex Judicial Review and medical treatment case concerning withdrawal of life sustaining treatment for 5 year old Muslim child, whose parents sought to take her to Italy for ongoing medical treatment.
  • Barts Health NHS Trust v Archie Battersbee [2022]. Kennedys acted for the Trust in this high profile matter concerning the ongoing medical treatment of a child deemed by the medical team to be brain stem dead. After several hearings at the High Court and Court of Appeal, it was declared lawful and in Archie’s best interests to have his mechanical ventilation withdrawn.