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  • Right-to-die case raises important legal issues, says local solicitor

    Henry James

    A WEST Lancashire solicitor believes a decision to withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a police officer and Gulf War veteran has raised important legal issues.

    Michael Prendergast, from Ormskirk-based Dickinson Parker Hill, was speaking following the recent case of Paul Briggs.

    The 43-year-old was involved in a serious motorcycle accident in July 2015 while working as a police officer in Merseyside resulting in a severe brain injury.

    Since then, Mr Briggs, who has a five-year-old daughter with wife Lindsey, had been in a minimally conscious state in hospital for 17 months.

    His family brought proceedings in the Court of Protection calling for the medical treatment he is receiving to be withdrawn as they believed that Mr Briggs would not have wanted to continue receiving treatment in his current condition.

    Unfortunately, Mr Briggs had not put in place any form of advance directive regarding medical treatment or put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney in relation to his health and welfare.

    Mr Justice Charles, hearing the case at the Court of Protection, ruled in favour of the family stating that it would not be in Mr Brigg’s best interests for his medical treatment to continue and, therefore, it should be withdrawn with palliative care put in place.

    However, the Official Solicitor, acting on behalf of Mr Briggs, has sought leave to appeal the decision.

    Michael Prendergast said: “The unfortunate and difficult circumstances of this case highlight the importance of discussing your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment with your family and, more importantly, the need to put in place Lasting Powers of Attorney so that if the worst happens your family have the authority to make these types of difficult decisions on your behalf.”

    Most people in England and Wales do not have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place and think that they only apply to elderly people.

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