I am a Partner in the healthcare team dealing with a range of general healthcare matters, both contentious and non-contentious. I advise on capacity, best interests and deprivation of liberty cases, serious medical treatment cases, applications to the Court of Protection and the Inherent Jurisdiction of the High Court, legal frameworks for packages of care for service users whose behaviour challenges and children transitioning into adult services. I have a particular interest in mental health law and my specialist practice area is the interface between the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act.
I am recognised by clients as being a "go-to expert for all matters relating to the Court of Protection" and for my "team-approach" to supporting supports health and social care professionals throughout the entire journey of these matters.
I represented an NHS Trust in the first ever CQC prosecution under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 in October 2017, and regularly advise organisations on serious/catastrophic incidents (often attracting national media interest) and the parallel processes arising out of these, including; HSE investigations and prosecutions, police investigations and CPS prosecutions for corporate and gross negligence manslaughter, complex inquests, NHS England/CCG reviews, CQC inspections and the interface between enforcement agencies.
From a client’s perspective, she feels like an incredibly safe pair of hands, always accessible and ready to talk through an issue and working for the Trust with as much passion and commitment as if she were one of its employees.
A significant proportion of my work revolves around advising on appropriate legal frameworks for complex, vulnerable service users who require restrictive and intensive packages of care and support across a variety of care-settings; ranging from high-secure/specialist hospitals, general psychiatric low-secure/open units, rehabilitation centres, residential/nursing homes, traditional supported living placements, core and cluster models, "hospital-at-home", family home packages and own tenancy arrangements. They often involve regularising invasive and often ethically contentious interventions such as high-levels of physical restraint, seclusion, use of CCTV, removed-clothing personal searches, intercepting correspondence and monitoring/regulating telephone/face-to-face contact.
Frequently, there are disputes concerning the appropriate treatment, management technique and placement which I have to facilitate the mediation of between health and social care professionals, family members and others involved in the service user's care. I have been involved in some of the most significant matters before the Court of Protection over the past 5 years, with cases that have directly impacted the application of the law and how care and support has to be delivered in practice.
Hannah’s ability to coordinate the different strands in a case is outstanding. Her preparation is meticulous. She has an excellent reputation amongst the solicitors working for the Official Solicitor. They readily acknowledge her attention to detail, high quality of judgement, and the fact that “she knows what she’s doing”.
I have experience in representing clients seeking declarations regarding and authorisations for the delivery of Serious Medical Treatment to a service user who lacks capacity or is unable to make a lawful decision about the proposal. These can be longstanding for non-urgent interventions (such as long-term contraception/non-therapeutic sterilisation or treatment of chronic conditions) or emergency applications for life-saving interventions. I support health and social care professionals throughout the entire journey of these matters; at the outset with initial planning or safeguarding multi-agency and multi-professional meetings, scoping the whole of the intervention from how the service user will get to hospital (using forced entry where necessary) to how they will get home upon discharge, throughout the gathering and compilation of the evidence required to support the application and attendance and giving evidence during the Court hearings.
Hannah's style is intuitive – she knows when I would understand something and when something may need qualifying – she uses helpful examples to aid understanding… Without exception Hannah's my ‘go to’ expert for all matters of dispute or court.
- I am the Chair of the South West Court of Protection Practitioner Association; which is an organisation made up of health and social care professionals, IMCAs, solicitors, barristers and Judges and patient representatives involved in this area of work. We directly influence how the Court of Protection operates regionally. I spoke at the CoPPA National Conference in Bristol in September 2016.
- Mediation Pilot Working Committee – I am a member of the working committee developing a mediation pilot for Court of Protection in conjunction with HHJ Hilder (Senior Judge of the CoP) and Mr Justice Charles.
- Legal 500 2017 – recommended lawyer for Court of Protection
Hannah has incredible stamina and is admired for her high quality handling of these complex and high profile cases. There are not many lawyers who have the skill set to address the Board on health & safety governance issues in one breath and answer detailed questions about the legal and statutory framework in the next. Hannah uses her formidable strengths and good judgment to win over clients and is a solicitor you want on your side.
- In February 2016 I was The Times Lawyer of the Week for my work in Mental Health Trust v DD and BC  EWCOP 4 where the relief that the Court granted is thought to be the most exceptional in the history of the Court of Protection.
- CQC v An NHS Foundation Trust - in October 2017 I represented an NHS Trust in the first ever CQC prosecution under the Health and Social Care Act 2008.
- HM Coroner for Oxfordshire – in October 2015 I represented an NHS Trust in a complex, contentious and controversial Article 2 inquest (jury) into the death of a vulnerable young service user with a learning disability and epilepsy, who died whilst admitted to a mental health in-patient unit. I have advised the Trust with the associated CQC and police investigations (corporate manslaughter) and continue to advise on the HSE prosecution for breaches of Health and Safety legislation.
- Mental Health Trust v DD and BC  EWCOP 4 - I represented the applicant mental health Trust, acute Trust and local authority in this case, where the Judge granted the relief sought by the applicants, permitting the sterilisation of a learning disabled woman. The relief granted is thought to be the most exceptional in the history of the Court of Protection. This case attracted national media attention and I supported the applicants on media strategy.
Hannah consistently displays a calm, professional manner; her attention to detail is exceptional, and she is able to readily understand and interpret the complexity of NHS governance arrangements. Her organised and thorough approach, seeing matters through to completion, instils confidence. She is highly personable, and able to adapt to her audience, smoothly managing difficult conversations at Board level and with managers and staff throughout the organisation. She is a highly reliable and professional representative externally.
I frequently deliver seminars and training presentations to health and social care professionals. I have provided training to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Obstetricians, NHS England South, SITRA, Supported Housing in Partnership and the Law Society; and draft articles and briefings in this rapidly developing, but highly nuanced, practice area. Through my experience in the Court of Protection and the High Court, I have developed a comprehensive suite of precedents for the evidence that is required; including templates for capacity assessments, records of best interest decision-making, care plans, risk assessments and witness statements. These have received accolades from a number of High Court Judges. I've also developed practical toolkits; aimed at frontline professionals to assist with complex issues such as CCTV and obstetric mental health cases.
Hannah's areas of expertise
- Independent Health
- Social Care
- Housing & Regeneration
- Local Government
- Mental Capacity and the Court of Protection
- Medical Law & Human Rights
- Health & Social Care Regulation
- Criminal Regulatory
- Governance, Risk & Compliance
- Information Law
- Investigations & Inquiries
- Administrative and Public Law
- Major Incidents