Wooder v Dr Feggetter and Mental Health Act Commission (judgment 25 April 2002) (CA)

Mental Health – consent – capacity – compulsory treatment

The patient sought a declaration that a Second Opinion Appointed Doctor (SOAD) should provide written and adequate reasons when certifying under s58 MHA 1983 that he should be given medication against his will.

The Court ruled that the decision to administer medical treatment to a competent non-consenting patient fell into the category of cases where the subject matter was an interest so highly regarded by the law that fairness required reasons to be given as of right. Further, the coming into force of the Human Rights Act 1998 signalled that the time had come to declare that a decision by a SOAD, which sanctioned the violation of the autonomy of a competent adult patient, should be accompanied by reasons.

In future the SOAD should send a statement of reasons to the RMO or the hospital which should be disclosed to the patient unless such disclosure was likely to cause serious harm to the physical or mental health of the patient or any other person.

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