The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis v ZH (by his litigation friend, GH) and (1) Liberty, (2) Equality and Human Rights Commission (Interveners) [2013] EWCA Civ 69

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The practical application of the Mental Capacity Act in emergency situations.

Citation: [2013] EWCA Civ 69


ZH was a 16 year old boy with both autism and learning difficulties, who was standing near water at a public swimming pool fixated by it. The police failed to consult with his carer prior to proceeding to handle with the situation, which caused ZH to jump into the water. He was then subsequently detained in the back of a police van with handcuffs and leg restraints. The Court of Appeal upheld amongst other things that the police were liable for the failure to make reasonable adjustments under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, thus had the police consulted the carer ZH would not have jumped. The Court did however acknowledge that in emergency situations it may not be practicable and appropriate to consult before acting.


This case highlights the importance of consulting and taking into account the views of the carer of a person lacking mental capacity before exercising action where it is both practicable and appropriate.