Rabone and Another v Pennine Care NHS Foundation: SC 8 Feb 2012

The claimant’s daughter had committed suicide whilst on home leave from a hospital where she had stayed as a voluntary patient with depression. Her admission had followed a suicide attempt. The hospital admitted negligence but denied that it owed her a positive obligation to protect life under Article 2.
Held: The claimants’ appeal succeeded. The decision to allow Melanie two days home leave was one that no reasonable psychiatric practitioner would have made, and recourse to the margin of appreciation was misplaced. The Trust had failed to do all that could reasonably have been expected to prevent the real and immediate risk of suicide. It had an operational duty under Article 2 to protect persons from a real and immediate risk of suicide where they were under the control of the state. She had been admitted because she was a real suicide risk. The Trust accepted responsibility for her in taking her under control. Although not detained, had she insisted on leaving the hospital the respondent would have exercised it powers under the 1983 Act to stop her. The difference in these circumstances between detained and voluntary patient was one of form, and not of substance.
The acceptance of a settlement under the 1934 Act was in no way a settlement of any Human Rights claim.
Lord Dyson considered the assessment of damages for infringement of human rights, saying that in the absence of a guideline case in which the range of compensation is specified and the relevant considerations are articulated, it is necessary for our courts to do their best in the light of such guidance as can be gleaned from the Strasbourg decisions on the facts of individual cases.
Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood said that our domestic courts may choose to go further in the interpretation and application of the ECHR than Strasbourg has done where they reach a conclusion which flows naturally from Strasbourg’s existing case law.


Lord Walker, Lady Hale, Lord Brown, Lord Mance, Lord Dyson


[2012] 2 WLR 381, [2012] Med LR 221, [2012] 2 All ER 381, [2012] MHLR 66, [2012] HRLR 10, [2012] PTSR 497, [2012] 2 AC 72, (2012) 124 BMLR 148, (2012) 15 CCL Rep 13, [2012] UKSC 2, [2012] WLR (D) 23


Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary, WLRD


Mental Health Act 1983, European Convention on Human Rights 2, Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934


England and Wales


At First InstanceRabone and Another v Pennine Care NHS Trust QBD 23-Jul-2009
The claimant’s daughter had been a voluntary patient at a mental hospital. She committed suicide when on home leave from a secure ward. The claimant now said that the hospital had acted incompatibly with their daughter’s human rights, in releasing . .
Appeal fromRabone and Another v Pennine Care NHS Trust CA 21-Jun-2010
The claimant’s daughter had committed suicide after being given home leave on a secure ward by the respondent mental hospital. A claim in negligence had been settled, but the parents now appealed refusal of their claim that the hospital had failed . .
CitedOsman v The United Kingdom ECHR 28-Oct-1998
Police’s Complete Immunity was Too Wide
(Grand Chamber) A male teacher developed an obsession with a male pupil. He changed his name by deed poll to the pupil’s surname. He was required to teach at another school. The pupil’s family’s property was subjected to numerous acts of vandalism, . .
CitedKeenan v The United Kingdom ECHR 3-Apr-2001
A young prisoner was known to be at risk of suicide, but nevertheless was not provided with adequate specialist medical supervision. He was punished for an offence, by way of segregation which further put him at risk.
Held: Inhuman and . .
CitedEdwards v The United Kingdom ECHR 14-Mar-2002
The deceased, a young man of mixed race, had been placed in a cell with another prisoner who was known to be violent, racist, and mentally unstable. The staff knew that the panic button was defective. The deceased was murdered by his cell-mate. His . .
CitedSlimani v France ECHR 27-Jul-2004
A Tunisian was committed to a psychiatric hospital on several occasions. He died while detained in a detention centre awaiting deportation. The applicant complained that there had been a violation of article 2 on two grounds: the detention centre . .
CitedSavage v South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MIND intervening) HL 10-Dec-2008
The deceased had committed suicide on escaping from a mental hospital. The Trust appealed against a refusal to strike out the claim that that they had been negligent in having inadequate security.
Held: The Trust’s appeal failed. The fact that . .
CitedOneryildiz v Turkey ECHR 30-Nov-2004
(Grand Chamber) The applicant had lived with his family in a slum bordering on a municipal household refuse tip. A methane explosion at the tip resulted in a landslide which engulfed the applicant’s house killing his close relatives.
Held: The . .
CitedZ And Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 10-May-2001
Four children complained that, for years before they were taken into care by the local authority, its social services department was well aware that they were living in filthy conditions and suffering ‘appalling’ neglect in the home of their . .
CitedStoyanovi v Bulgaria ECHR 9-Nov-2010
The court rejected an application made by the family of a soldier who died during a parachute exercise, drawing a distinction between risks which a soldier must expect as an incident of his ordinary military duties and ”dangerous’ situations of . .
CitedWatts v The United Kingdom ECHR 4-May-2010
(Admissibility) The claimant said that her transfer from her existing care home to another care home would reduce her life expectancy.
Held: A badly managed transfer of elderly residents of a care home might have a negative impact on their . .
CitedCalvelli and Ciglio v Italy ECHR 17-Jan-2002
The applicants’ baby had died shortly after birth in 1987. They complained about the medical care. The complaint was not investigated speedily by the authority, resulting in a criminal complaint becoming time barred after a conviction in 1994 was . .
CitedVo v France ECHR 8-Jul-2004
Hudoc Preliminary objection rejected (ratione materiae, non-exhaustion of domestic remedies) ; No violation of Art. 2
A doctor by negligence had caused the termination of a pregnancy at the 20 to 24 weeks . .
CitedMikayil Mammadov v Azerbaijan ECHR 17-Dec-2009
The applicant’s wife had set fire to herself during an attempt by police officers to evict the applicant and his family from accommodation that they were occupying.
Held: It was necessary to determine whether ‘this specific situation’ . .
CitedMitchell and Another v Glasgow City Council HL 18-Feb-2009
(Scotland) The pursuers were the widow and daughter of a tenant of the respondent who had been violently killed by his neighbour. They said that the respondent, knowing of the neighbour’s violent behaviours had a duty of care to the deceased and . .
CitedKilinc And Others v Turkey ECHR 7-Jun-2005
A state authority may have a positive obligation to prevent foreseeable suicides amongst conscripts to its armed forces. . .
CitedIn re Officer L HL 31-Jul-2007
Police officers appealed against refusal of orders protecting their anonymity when called to appear before the Robert Hamill Inquiry.
Held: ‘The tribunal accordingly approached the matter properly under article 2 in seeking to ascertain . .
CitedHertfordshire Police v Van Colle; Smith v Chief Constable of Sussex Police HL 30-Jul-2008
Police Obligations to Witnesses is Limited
A prosecution witness was murdered by the accused shortly before his trial. The parents of the deceased alleged that the failure of the police to protect their son was a breach of article 2.
Held: The House was asked ‘If the police are alerted . .
CitedKats and Others v Ukraine ECHR 18-Dec-2008
The applicants were the parents and son of a prisoner who died in custody of an HIV related illness. They complained of her treatment in custody.
Held: If someone dies in custody an explanation of the cause of death must be provided, including . .
CitedOpuz v Turkey ECHR 9-Jun-2009
The applicant alleged, in particular, that the State authorities had failed to protect her and her mother from domestic violence, which had resulted in the death of her mother and her own ill-treatment. . .
CitedRenolde v France ECHR 16-Oct-2008
A prisoner with mental health problems committed suicide during pre-trial detention. It was said that the state had infringed his article 2 right.
Held: The court noted the vulnerability of persons in custody, especially those who were . .
CitedKats and Others v Ukraine ECHR 14-Mar-2006
. .

Cited by:

CitedKent County Council, Regina (on The Application of) v HM Coroner for The County of Kent (North-West District) and Others Admn 15-Oct-2012
The council sought review of the coroner’s decision that the inquest would be an article 2 inquest and with a jury. The deceased was 14 years old and had taken methadone. In the months before his death, he had had involvement with the council’s . .
CitedFaulkner, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice and Another SC 1-May-2013
The applicants had each been given a life sentence, but having served the minimum term had been due to have the continued detention reviewed to establish whether or not continued detention was necessary for the protection of the pblic. It had not . .
CitedMoohan and Another v The Lord Advocate SC 17-Dec-2014
The petitioners, convicted serving prisoners, had sought judicial review of the refusal to allow them to vote in the Scottish Referendum on Independence. The request had been refused in the Outer and Inner Houses.
Held: (Kerr, Wilson JJSC . .
CitedKennedy v The Charity Commission SC 26-Mar-2014
The claimant journalist sought disclosure of papers acquired by the respondent in its conduct of enquiries into the charitable Mariam appeal. The Commission referred to an absolute exemption under section 32(2) of the 2000 Act, saying that the . .
CitedHaney and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v The Secretary of State for Justice SC 10-Dec-2014
The four claimants, each serving indeterminate prison sentences, said that as they approached the times when thy might apply for parol, they had been given insufficient support and training to meet the requirements for release. The courts below had . .
CitedCommissioner of Police of The Metropolis v DSD and Another SC 21-Feb-2018
Two claimants had each been sexually assaulted by a later notorious, multiple rapist. Each had made complaints to police about their assaults but said that no effective steps had been taken to investigate the serious complaints.
Held: The . .
CitedGardner and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Others Admn 27-Apr-2022
Patient transfer policy was unlawful
The claimants had relatives who died in care homes early in the COVID-19 pandemic. They said that the policy of moving patients from hospitals to care homes without testing had contributed to the deaths, and many others, and had been unlawful. The . .
CitedElgizouli v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 25-Mar-2020
Defendants were to face trial in the US, accused of monstrous crimes. The appellant challenged the release of information to the USA by the respondent to support such prosecutions when the death penalty was a possible outcome of a conviction: ‘The . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Health, Human Rights, Negligence, Damages, Constitutional

Leading Case

Updated: 07 August 2022; Ref: scu.450972