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Vulnerable adults with capacity: court's jurisdiction - DL v A Local Authority [2012]

DL, a man in his 50s who lived with his mother and father had behaved aggressively towards his parents, physically and verbally, controlling access to visitors and seeking to coerce his father into transferring ownership of the house into DL's name, and pressuring his mother into moving into a care home against her wishes. Both elderly parents did have capacity under Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA 2005). An injunction was applied because interference of the parents' process of decision making arose rather from undue influence and duress inflicted by the son.

The son claimed that the court no longer had jurisdiction to interfere in the affairs of adults who had capacity within the meaning of MCA 2005 to make their own decision, vulnerable or not.

The judgment held: 'adult at risk' is currently preferred as it focuses less on the person's inherent vulnerability and more on their objective circumstances what might be called 'situational' or 'circumstantial' vulnerability to which all of us may at some point succumb. The court also uses the term 'elder abuse'.

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