Let it not be said that bureaucrats won't stand in the way of good outcomes and thinking outside the square.
The case reported by The Independent - scary in so many ways - whilst in the UK, is likely replicated in many Western countries around the world.
"It's like a flashback, all the memories come flooding back."
Just under a year ago a court ruled that Steven, a 22-year-old autistic man from north-west London, had been unlawfully deprived of his liberty when he was taken away from his father and placed in a care home for nearly a year.
Mark fought a lengthy battle to prove that the council was wrong, even as they prepared to move his son hundreds of miles away to a new care home in Wales. He eventually won in a victory that reunited a family and shone a spotlight on the workings of Britain's little known Court of Protection.
The court was set up in 2007 to administer on behalf of some of Britain's most vulnerable people – those who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions.
Steven may not be able to make crucial decisions about his life, but the memory of being taken away from his father still haunts him. When the court finally ordered his return he would ask his father every day whether he was going to go back to the care home.
"We still have that," says Mark. "He's always asking whether they'll come take him away. It's horrible."
Crucially, his behaviour has improved dramatically since his return. When Steven was kept at the care home he would regularly lash out at staff, who often logged between 10 and 12 instances of difficult or violent behaviour every week. The local council insisted that was partially why he needed to be kept under their supervision. Mark argued relentlessly that the only reason he was acting up was because he missed home. He has since been vindicated.
"The positive thing is that Steven is really content now," he says. "He's much happier. I have to keep a log and he rarely has any instances now. He's back where he belongs and that's important."
Two years ago no one outside of Mark's immediate circle of friends would have known anything about his troubles, or even that Hillingdon Council had acted unlawfully in taking away his son.
It was only when The Independent won a series of legal victories allowing the press to attend a small number of Court of Protection hearings that the curtain began to lift on what was once one of Britain's most opaque judicial systems.
That was 18 months ago and in the meantime the public has become significantly more knowledgeable about the court's operations. But there is still a long way to go. Few would doubt that vast improvements have been made within the court since it has started to be subjected to a modicum of public scrutiny. The media's campaign to be allowed in to cases of public importance has coincided with an increasing desire by some of the court's most senior judges to push for more transparency. Sir Nicholas Wall – the head of the family division – Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Hedley have all spoken out in favour of allowing press into some cases and publishing more judgments in anonymised form. The judiciary has balked at suggestions that the court is secretive. They say it is closed to protect the privacy of vulnerable individuals but more steps must be made to make it more transparent where possible. As a result, the public is more aware of the often tortuous decisions these judges have to make in what can be complicated and often deeply tragic situations.
In the past 18 months the public has been told of a string of vital cases including a decision not to allow a woman in a minimally conscious coma to have her nutrition withdrawn; an elderly couple's fight to go on holiday after their local authority refused them permission; a mother's bid (eventually withdrawn) to have a daughter with severe learning difficulties sterilised because she kept getting pregnant; and numerous disputes where children have been removed from their parents – rightly or wrongly – by local authorities. None of these could have been made public before.
Details have also emerged for the first time of how the Court of Protection intervenes to prevent serious wrongdoing. As well as the Neary judgment, we now know that an 18-year-old man with autism and severe learning difficulties was unlawfully deprived of his liberty by Wigan Council when he was placed in a padded cell 192 times in a single month. We also know that employees of a care home in Cheshire were sacked after they doctored the records of a difficult patient in their care."