High Court Acts to Protect Best Interests of Mentally Ill Professional

It is a sad fact that those who suffer from mental illness often have no insight into their condition and refuse to accept the protection the law affords them. That was certainly so in a High Court case concerning a once high-powered professional whose life had collapsed under the burden of his persistent delusions.

The man brooked no opposition to his adamant belief that he had for years endured persecution and harassment at the hands of those engaged in a conspiracy against him. Although he was highly intelligent and apparently capable of making coherent arguments, his belief was unintelligible. His family relationships had suffered badly as a result and his financial situation had declined to the point where he depended on meagre earnings from casual gardening work. Most pressingly, his home was at risk of repossession due to mounting mortgage arrears.

In those circumstances, his local authority launched proceedings with a view to a professional deputy being appointed to manage his property and affairs on his behalf. On the basis of medical evidence that he suffered from a persistent delusional disorder, a judge declared that he lacked the mental capacity to litigate and the Official Solicitor was appointed to represent him in the proceedings. His appeal against that order was subsequently dismissed.

Following a further hearing, the Court rejected his arguments that the proceedings should be struck out as an abuse of process. Although he was able to manage the day-to-day minutiae of his life, his disordered and delusional thought processes had become deeply entrenched. Impervious to reason, he could not accept that he was mentally unwell and did not recognise any professional or judicial challenge to his personal narrative. Given his increasing isolation and the parlous condition of his finances, the Court found that his best interests demanded the appointment of an experienced solicitor to take over management of his affairs as his deputy.