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  • Bell vs Tavistock: A judicial review around consent to access physical treatments

Bell vs Tavistock overview

In December 2020, following a Judicial Review, the High Court ruled that it is “highly unlikely” that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to consent to being treated with hormone suppressants. It also ruled that for those aged 14 and 15 it is “very doubtful that a child of this age could … have sufficient understanding to give consent”. The High Court also set down a list of things that a child would have to be able to understand, retain and weigh up in order to be able to consent to treatment.

The Tavistock and Portman appealed this ruling.

In March 2021, in a separate legal case, the Family Division of the High Court ruled that “there is no requirement or best practice obligation to seek Court authorisation where parental consent is given to hormone suppressants”, and that “parents are, in general, in a position to understand and weigh up these matters and consider what is in the long and short term best interests of their child”.

On 17 September 2021, the Court of Appeal granted our appeal in full, overturning the December 2020 ruling.

The claimants appealed this decision to the Supreme Court.

On 28 April 2022, the Supreme Court ordered that “permission to appeal be REFUSED because the application does not raise an arguable point of law”.

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