Winterwerp v The Netherlands: ECHR 24 Oct 1979

A Dutch national detained in hospital complained that his detention had divested him of his capacity to administer his property, and thus there had been determination of his civil rights and obligations without the guarantee of a judicial procedure.
Held: Article 5(1)(a) is concerned with the question whether the detention is permissible. Its object and purpose is to ensure that no one should be dispossessed of his liberty in an arbitrary fashion, and its provisions call for a narrow interpretation. The Court defined the conditions to be met before the detention of a person may be justified on grounds of mental illness: ‘In the Court’s opinion, except in emergency cases, the individual concerned should not be deprived of his liberty unless he has been reliably shown to be of ‘unsound mind’. The very nature of what has to be established before the competent national authority – that is, a true mental disorder – calls for objective medical expertise. Further, the mental disorder must be of a kind or degree warranting compulsory confinement. What is more, the validity of continued confinement depends upon the persistence of such a disorder.’ but ‘it is essential that the person concerned should have access to a court and the opportunity to be heard either in person or, where necessary, through some form of representation . . . Mental illness may entail restricting or modifying the manner of the exercise of such a right, but it cannot justify impairing the very essence of the right. Indeed, special procedural safeguards may prove called for in order to protect the interests of persons who, on account of their mental disabilities, are not fully capable of acting for themselves.’

[1979] 2 EHRR 387, [1979] ECHR 4, 6301/73
European Convention on Human Rights 5 6 8
Human Rights
Cited by:
CitedA v The Scottish Ministers PC 15-Oct-2001
(Scotland) The power to detain a person suffering from a mental illness, in order to ensure the safety of the public, and even though there was no real possibility of treatment of the mental condition in hospital, was not a disproportionate . .
CitedGiles, Regina (on the Application of) v Parole Board and Another HL 31-Jul-2003
The defendant had been sentenced for offences of violence, but an additional period was imposed to protect the public. He had been refused leave for reconsideration of that part of his sentence after he completed the normal segment of his sentence. . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Another ex parte IH HL 13-Nov-2003
The appellant had been found unfit to plead after assaulting his son, and he had been detained under the 1964 Act. He alleged his detention was in breach of his right to a fair trial. His release had been authorised subject to the appointment of a . .
CitedRegina v Parole Board ex parte Smith, Regina v Parole Board ex parte West (Conjoined Appeals) HL 27-Jan-2005
Each defendant challenged the way he had been treated on revocation of his parole licence, saying he should have been given the opportunity to make oral representations.
Held: The prisoners’ appeals were allowed.
Lord Bingham stated: . .
CitedB, Regina (on the Application of) v Ashworth Hospital Authority HL 17-Mar-2005
The House was asked whether a patient detained for treatment under the 1983 Act can be treated against his will for any mental disorder from which he is suffering or only for the particular form of mental disorder from which he is classified as . .
CitedWard v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and others HL 5-May-2005
The claimant had been taken under warrant to a mental hospital, but was found not to be suffering any mental illness. She complained that the arrest was unlawful, since the police officer had not been accompanied by the people named on the warrant. . .
CitedRegina v Ashworth Hospital Authority (Now Mersey Care National Health Service Trust) ex parte Munjaz HL 13-Oct-2005
The claimant was detained in a secure Mental Hospital. He complained at the seclusions policy applied by the hospital, saying that it departed from the Guidance issued for such policies by the Secretary of State under the Act.
Held: The House . .
CitedMH v Secretary of State for the Department of Health and others HL 20-Oct-2005
The appellant, detained for assessment under section 2, was too disabled to make an application to the court on her own behalf. After a dispute between her mother and the medical officer over her treatment, an application was made to the county . .
CitedAN, Regina (on the Application of) v Mental Health Review Tribunal (Northern Region) and others CA 21-Dec-2005
The appellant was detained under section 37 of the 1983 Act as a mental patient with a restriction under section 41. He sought his release.
Held: The standard of proof in such applications remained the balance of probabilities, but that . .
CitedMasterman-Lister v Brutton and Co, Jewell and Home Counties Dairies (No 1) CA 19-Dec-2002
Capacity for Litigation
The claimant appealed against dismissal of his claims. He had earlier settled a claim for damages, but now sought to re-open it, and to claim in negligence against his former solicitors, saying that he had not had sufficient mental capacity at the . .
See AlsoWinterwerp v The Netherlands ECHR 27-Nov-1981
Hudoc Judgment (Just satisfaction) Struck out of the list (friendly settlement) . .
CitedIn re PS (an Adult), Re; City of Sunderland v PS by her litigation friend the Offcial Solcicitor and CA; Re PS (Incapacitated or Vulnerable Adult) FD 9-Mar-2007
The patient an elderly lady with limited mental capacity was to be returned from hospital, but her daughter said she was to come home. The local authority sought to prevent this, wanting to return her to a residential unit where she had lived for . .
CitedJuncal, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and others CA 25-Jul-2008
The claimant appealed dismissal of his claim for wrongful imprisonment having been detained in 1997 on being found unfit to plead to an offence of violence.
Held: Parliament had a legitimate concern for the protection of the public, and . .
CitedSK (Zimbabwe) v Secretary of State for the Home Department CA 6-Nov-2008
Immigration detention proper after prison release
The Home Secretary appealed against a finding that he had unlawfully detained the applicant. The applicant had been detained on release from prison pending his return to Zimbabwe as recommended by the sentencing judge under section 6 of the 1971 . .
CitedG v E and Others CoP 26-Mar-2010
E Was born with and still suffered severe learning difficulties. The court was asked as to the extent of his capacity to make decisions, and as to where he should live, with a family member, the carer or with the local authority, which had removed . .
CitedG v E and Others CA 4-May-2010
E, now aged 19, suffered a genetic condition leading to severe learning disability, and a lack of mental capacity. After being in the care of F, but displaying potentially violent behaviours, he was removed against his and F’s will to the care of . .
CitedG v E and Others CA 16-Jul-2010
E, now aged 19, suffered a genetic disorder leading to severe learning disability and lack of mental capacity. He had been in the care of his sister, the appellant, but had been removed by the local authority when his behaviour became disturbed. G, . .
CitedSherry v The Queen PC 4-Mar-2013
Discretion as to credit for remand time
(Guernsey) In 1980 the appellant had been sentenced to three months imprisonment. He had spent 10 days on remand, but no allowance was given for that time. He gave notice of appeal, but after being released on open remand, he failed to appear at his . .
CitedIn re X and Others (Deprivation of Liberty) CoP 7-Aug-2014
The court considered the practical and procedural implications for the Court of Protection of what was expected too be a large increase in its case-load which following the Supreme Court’s decision in Surrey County Council v P where it was held that . .
CitedModaresi, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Health SC 24-Jul-2013
The Court was asked: ‘As: (i) a public body with obligations in public law and (ii) a public authority under the Human Rights Act 1998 can the Secretary of State for Health ‘the S/S’ lawfully refuse to refer a patient’s case to the First-tier Mental . .
CitedThe Health Service Executive of Ireland v PA and Others CoP 3-Jun-2015
The HSE sought orders under s.63 of and Schedule 3 to the 2005 Act recognising and enforcing orders by the Irish High Court for the detention of three young persons (‘PA’, ‘PB’, and ‘PC’) at a special unit known in Northampton.
Held: On an . .
CitedSecretary of State for Justice v MM SC 28-Nov-2018
The respondent had been detained after conviction for arson, under the 1983 Act, and was liable to indefinite detention in hospital for medical treatment and dischargeable only by the Appellant or the First Tier Tribunal, possibly only as a . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Health

Leading Case

Updated: 29 November 2021; Ref: scu.164887