Suspensive measure extended to prevent ‘serious and irreparable harm’
13 June 2017
Charlie Gard is to be kept alive for a further six days, until Monday 19 June, to allow lawyers for his parents to make a substantive application to the European Court of Human Rights.
The Strasbourg court notified the UK this afternoon (Tuesday 13 June) that Charlie should be provided ‘with such treatment and nursing care as may be appropriate to ensure that he suffers the least distress and retains the greatest dignity consistent, insofar as possible, with maintaining life.’
Ten-months-old Charlie suffers from a rare and incurable genetic condition. He cannot breathe or move unaided and he has been on mechanical ventilation most of his short life.
Charlie’s parents have raised £1.3m to fly him to the US where a doctor has offered experimental nucleoside treatment. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie has been treated, considered that because his condition had deteriorated so seriously, such treatment would not result in any improvement and would be ‘futile’.
In an emergency appeal last week, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling authorising doctors to withdraw life-support and move Charlie to palliative care so that he could be allowed die with dignity.
Earlier that week, Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates filed an application for urgent interim measures under Rule 39 of the European court’s procedure rules in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision to reject their appeal.
The Strasbourg judges granted an initial request for interim suspensive measures until midnight today while they assessed whether there was possibly a case to answer. This led to the Supreme Court to staying its judgment.
Charlie’s parents have not yet submitted a full application but the European court has said ‘serious and irreparable harm may occur’ if it allowed its earlier indication – the official process of notifying ECHR member countries – to lapse before it could examine any application that may be made.
The court said this latest indication to the UK was made ‘in the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings’ to allow the parties to submit a substantive application and for the court to consider it.
If no application is submitted, the interim measure will lapse at midnight on Monday 19 June 2017.
The court has also decided that the documents in the case file should not be accessible to the public.
The application is likely to argue that English law is in breach of Connie Yates and Chris Gard’s rights to private life and family under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
This story was first published on Solicitors Journal on 13 June 2017 and is reproduced by kind permission