0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

Charlie Gard – European Court of Human Rights to hear case

9 June 2017

It would be hard to find a more tragic set of circumstances than Charlie Gard’s case and the understandable anguish for his parents. On Thursday 8 June the Supreme Court took a difficult decision to reject the appeal to allow Charlie to undergo an experimental therapy in the US. He has been on life support at Great Ormond Street Hospital since October 2016 and suffers from a rare condition called mitochondrial depletion syndrome.

The legal argument forwarded by Charlie’s parents was that parents should be allowed to make the decision unless there was a risk of ‘significant harm,’ and that to do otherwise was a ‘state intrusion on a massive scale’. The hospital’s evidence has been that due to Charlie’s deterioration, therapy would be futile and palliative care was now the only appropriate option. The court determined that whilst "Any court will have the utmost sympathy for parent exploring every possible way of preserving the life of their baby son," they were bound by the factual findings of medical evidence, the welfare of the child was paramount and that the hospital should be allowed to withdraw life support at 17:00 hrs today. This, however, has just changed as the European Court of Human Rights has agreed to look at the case and directed that treatment should continue until Tuesday.

These are inevitably difficult cases for families and medical staff alike. It is not a situation anyone would ever wish to become involved in, but questions of medical futility are becoming more common as advances in medical science are made. What is clear is that these situations always require careful and sensitive consideration. 

related opinions

NICE publishes draft guidance on the procurement of Digital Health Technologies (DHT)

NICE publishes draft guidance on the procurement of Digital Health Technologies (DHT).

View blog

NHS Resolution win saves NHS £270,000 upfront legal costs

In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal has today reversed the decision of Foskett J in three ‘bulk conversion’ CFA test cases.

View blog

Deprivation of liberty reform - request for comment

As you may have already heard, the Joint Committee on Human Rights has launched an investigation into deprivation of liberty, and in particular is inviting views on the law Commission’s proposals.

View blog

Safer maternity care: a new approach to learning from harm

On 28 November 2017, the government announced its refreshed maternity safety strategy to prevent avoidable serious incidents in maternity services.

View blog

mailing list sign up



Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up