Nielsen v Denmark: ECHR 28 Nov 1988

The applicant, a minor, complained about his committal to a child psychiatric ward of a state hospital at his mother’s request. The question was whether this was a deprivation of his liberty in violation of article 5. The applicant said that it was, as the ward in which he was placed was a closed ward, he was unable to receive visitors except with the agreement of the staff, special permission was required for him to make telephone calls and for persons outside the hospital to get into contact with him and he was under almost constant surveillance.
Held: It did not follow that the case fell within the ambit of article 5. The restrictions that were imposed on the applicant were not of a nature or degree similar to the cases of deprivation of liberty specified in article 5(1). He was not detained as a person of unsound mind so as to bring the case within paragraph (e). He was there at the request of his mother, as to whom there was no evidence of bad faith. ‘It should be observed at the outset that family life in the Contracting States incorporates a broad range of parental rights and responsibilities in regard to the care and custody of minor children. The care and upbringing of children normally and necessarily require that the parents or an only parent decide where the child must reside and also impose, or authorize others to impose, various restrictions on the child’s liberty. Thus the children in a school or other educational or recreational institution must abide by certain rules, which limit their freedom of movement and their liberty in other respects. Likewise a child may have to be hospitalised for medical treatment. Family life in this sense, and especially the rights of parents to exercise parental authority over their children, having due regard to their corresponding parental responsibilities is reconsidered by the [ECHR] in particular by article 8. Indeed the exercise of parental rights constitutes a fundamental element of family life’


[1988] ECHR 23, 10929/84, (1988) 11 EHRR 175, (1988) 11 EHRR 175


Worldlii, Bailii


European Convention on Human Rights 5(1)


Human Rights

Cited by:

CitedAxon, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Health and Another Admn 23-Jan-2006
A mother sought to challenge guidelines issued by the respondent which would allow doctors to protect the confidentiality of women under 16 who came to them for assistance even though the sexual activities they might engage in would be unlawful.
CitedAustin and Another v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis HL 28-Jan-2009
Movement retsriction was not Liberty Deprivation
The claimants had been present during a demonstration policed by the respondent. They appealed against dismissal of their claims for false imprisonment having been prevented from leaving Oxford Circus for over seven hours. The claimants appealed . .
CitedRe DE, JE v DE, Surrey County Council and EW FD 29-Dec-2006
JE, wife of DE, who had been taken into residential care by the Local authority, said that the authority had infringed his Article 5 and 8 rights on transferring him between homes. The authority asserted that he did not have mental capacity. She . .
CitedThe Christian Institute and Others v The Lord Advocate SC 28-Jul-2016
(Scotland) By the 2014 Act, the Scottish Parliament had provided that each child should have a named person to monitor that child’s needs, with information about him or her shared as necessary. The Institute objected that the imposed obligation to . .
CitedIn re D (A Child) SC 26-Sep-2019
D, a young adult had a mild learning disability and other more serious conditions. He was taken into a hospital providing mental health services. The external door was locked, and a declaration was sought to permit this deprivation of his liberty, . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Health

Updated: 19 April 2022; Ref: scu.165025