While establishing that all psychiatric patients, regardless of status, are owed the same duty, the European Court of Human Rights has also minimised the meaningfulness of its decision in practice, says Laura Davidson

In 2012, the Supreme Court considered in Rabone & Another v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust [2012] UKSC 2 that the state’s positive obligation under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) would likely apply to voluntary and involuntary patients alike. Seven years later, this has been confirmed in Fernandes de Oliveira v Portugal (No. 78103/14, 31 January 2019).

AJ was an alcohol-dependent depressed schizophrenic patient who had been voluntarily admitted on eight occasions to the Hospital Psiquiátrico Sobral Cid (HSC) in Coimbra, Portugal. His final admission in April 2000 followed an overdose. Despite a supposedly initial restrictive reg...

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