High Court has first ever sitting in nursing home

Doctor fears court hearing could trigger seizure in man, judge says

A dispute over a man's capacity to make decisions has led to the first ever High Court sitting in a nursing home.

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, a court registrar, lawyers and doctors travelled to the nursing home outside Dublin on Thursday to hear the man's evidence.

The judge said the “unusual” sitting was because the man’s treating doctor feared the stress of a hearing in court could trigger a seizure in the man, who has severe lifelong epilepsy and brain disease.

The quietly-spoken man aged in his 60s has been in the nursing home since early this year, and said: “I would prefer to be at home.”


Supported by the elder advocacy group Sage, he objects to a Health Service Executive application to have him made a ward of court. That cannot happen unless the court decides he lacks capacity to make decisions about his welfare and finances.

The judge heard conflicting medical evidence on capacity. The man’s treating geriatrician said she feared he could die at home following an epileptic seizure as he has had 25 hospital admissions from there in recent years.

She, and a consultant psychiatrist who assessed him for the court, both found he lacks capacity. Two other consultant geriatricians maintain he has capacity.

The judge will give his decision on Tuesday.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times