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Charlie Gard to stay on life support until at least 19 June 2017

Substantive application to ECtHR awaited from parents

The European Court of Human Rights has decided to continue to indicate to the United Kingdom Government that it should provide Charlie Gard, a baby suffering from a rare genetic disease, 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.

On Tuesday 6 June 2017, in light of the High Court order permitting the withdrawal of Charlie Gard's artificial ventilation and in anticipation of the decision by the UK Supreme Court to reject their appeal, Charlie Gard's parents filed a request for an urgent interim measure (under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court) with the European Court. The applicants have not at this stage submitted a full, substantive application – the request was for an interim measure only. On Friday 9 June the Court initially granted the interim measure in the application Gard and Others v. the UK (no. 39793/17) in order to allow the European Court to examine the request in a Chamber formation of seven judges.

The Chamber has now given detailed consideration to the Rule 39 request and considers that serious and irreparable harm may occur if it lifts its Rule 39 indication before the Court can examine any application which may be submitted in this case.

At this stage in the procedure, the Court cannot prejudice any decision that it may ultimately make on the substance of the case. Therefore, in the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before it, it has indicated to the Government to prolong the application of the interim measure of 9 June 2017 until its decision on any substantive application that may be submitted. In the event that no substantive application is submitted, the interim measure shall be maintained until midnight on Monday 19 June 2017.

Following the European Court's indication to the UK Government, it has been submitted that, in order to give proper effect to this in UK law, consideration of whether an extension to the stay granted by the High Court requires to be undertaken by a UK court.

At the request of the UK Government and Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Supreme Court has agreed to hold a brief procedural hearing on Monday 19 June to consider that submission and to determine whether any UK court, and if so which court, may need to hold further hearings to consider what guidance ought to be given to GOSH in the event that the ECtHR proceedings continue beyond a short timeframe.

13/6/17 (supplemented 18/6/17)