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United Kingdom: Court backs disabled woman’s human rights protest

Judges have awarded €10,500 to a disabled woman, after backing her human rights protest against the United Kingdom authorities.

Elaine McDonald was left with severely limited mobility following a stroke in 1999 and complained about a reduction by a local authority of the amount allocated for her weekly care. The reduction was based on the authority’s decision that her night-time toileting needs could be met by the provision of incontinence pads and absorbant sheets instead of a night-time carer to assist her in using a commode.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of McDonald v. the United Kingdom (application no. 4241/12), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that:

the decision to reduce the amount allocated for McDonald’s care interfered with her right to respect for her family and private life, insofar as it required her to use incontinence pads when she was not actually incontinent;

there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of the period between 21 November 2008 and 4 November 2009 because the interference with her rights had not been in accordance with domestic law during this period;

but the complaint concerning the period after 4 November 2009 was inadmissible as manifestly ill-founded because the State had considerable discretion when it came to decisions concerning the allocation of scarce resources and, as such, the interference with Ms McDonald’s rights had been “necessary in a democratic society.”

Article 41 (just satisfaction)

The court held that the United Kingdom was to pay Ms McDonald 1,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 9,500 to cover the costs and expenses of her lawyer.

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