The Supreme Court will make history next month when women make up a majority of the judges hearing a case at the UK’s top court for the first time in British legal history.
Lady Hale, Lady Black and Lady Arden will join Lord Carnwath and Lord Lloyd-Jones in considering whether a 16-year-old boy with behavioural and developmental disorders was deprived of his liberty in contravention of his rights under article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Last year, Lady Hale became the first-ever woman to hold the position of president of the Supreme Court, and has often spoken out on the need for the Supreme Court bench to become ‘much more diverse.’
The boy in the case, known as D, has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Tourette’s Syndrome and a mild learning disability. In March 2012, D was informally admitted to a psychiatric hospital for assessment and treatment, with his parents’ consent and it was proposed to move him to a residential placement in which he would be under continuous supervision and control. On his 16th birthday, the respondent, Birmingham City Council, applied for a declaration that D was not deprived of his liberty on the basis that his parents were still able to consent to his confinement in exercise of their parental responsibility. It was common ground that D lacked capacity to make decisions about his residence and care.