Ending life support of 12-year-old boy is lawful and in his best interests, Court of Appeal holds


Re: Dance v Barts Health NHS Trust [2022] EWCA Civ 1055

The parents of a 12-year-old boy have been unsuccessful in their application for permission to appeal against a High Court ruling that it would be both lawful and in the boy’s best interests to end his life support and cease treatment. The boy has been in a coma since an accident in his home in April. The Court of Appeal has allowed a 48-hour delay so that the family can apply to the European Court of Human Rights.

Sir Andrew McFarlane P emphasised that “the judge must maintain a keen and unwavering focus upon the child’s best interests throughout the hearing and this must be the central core of the concluding judgment.”

The Court heard detailed medical evidence as to the boy’s physical condition, limited life expectancy and the treatment required to keep him alive, and afforded great weight to this in coming to a judgment. The family of the boy appealed against the High Court’s decision on a number of grounds which were ultimately rejected by the Court of Appeal, who upheld the High Court’s judgment.

Gavin Millar QC appeared on behalf of Barts Health NHS Trust which is responsible for the child’s life sustaining treatment.