Griffith v P – Family Law Week case summary

December 14, 2020

12 month sentence on committal application for falsifying a court order upheld

This is an appeal from an order committing Dahlia Griffith (‘the Appellant’) to prison for 12 months for contempt of court.

The background is set out in the judgment of MacDonald J (“the Judge”) [2020] EWCOP 46.  The Appellant is a relative of P, who is in a specialist hospital with a permanent disorder of consciousness.  There were proceedings in the Court of Protection concerning P’s best interests. In those proceedings P was represented by the Official Solicitor. During those proceedings, an issue arose regarding disclosure of P’s medical records.  The court made 3rd party orders for disclosure of P’s medical records to the OS.  The Appellant also made 2 applications for disclosure to her of P’s “full medical file” which were refused.

The Appellant subsequently sent an email to Barts Health NHS Trust (‘Barts’) attaching what was purported to be a court order providing for disclosure of P’s medical records directly to the Appellant.  Barts sent P’s medical records to the Appellant’s solicitors, who did not read them or forward them to the Appellant.  The OS became aware of this on approaching Barts for disclosure of P’s medical records and being told that they had already been provided at the Appellant’s request.

The Judge granted permission for an application for committal to be issued by the Official Solicitor under Rule 21.15 of the Court of Protection Rules 2017.   That was the last hearing attended by the Appellant.  The position subsequently put on her behalf was that the circumstances did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that she had falsified a court order and that the circumstances of the case suggested that the Appellant believed in all innocence that she was entitled to the disclosure sought.

Read the full summary on Family Law Week.