The Supreme Court returns legal capacity to a man affected by Diogenes Syndrome

The Supreme Court applies for the first time the new law on people with disabilities and restores a man affected by Diogenes syndrome to his legal capacity, which will allow him to participate directly in decisions about the social benefits he receives.

The judges restore the legal capacity of the affected person, a 68-year-old man, to assume rights and obligations for himself, and substitute guardianship for guardianship, so that he no longer needs anyone to represent him legally. That if, the plenary session of the Civil confirms the support measures that translate into assistance for order and cleaning of your home, with appointment as guardian of your autonomous community (Principality of Asturias).

The plenary session of the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court has issued for the first time a ruling in which the recent Law 8/2021, of June 2, which reforms the civil and procedural legislation to support people with disabilities in the exercise of its legal capacity.

In the case resolved, the person concerned suffers from a personality disorder, specifically a conduct disorder (Diogenes Syndrome) that leads him to collect and accumulate garbage obsessively, while abandoning his personal hygiene and food care.

Need for help

In cases like the present, says the court, in which there is a clear need for assistance whose absence is causing a serious personal deterioration, a degradation that prevents the exercise of their rights and the necessary relationships with the people around them, mainly their neighbors. , the adoption of assistance measures (proportionate to the needs and respecting the maximum autonomy of the person) is justified, even against the will of the interested party, because it is understood that the disorder that causes the situation of need prevents that person from having a clear awareness of your situation.

The disorder not only causes him to be clearly and objectively degrading as a person, but also prevents him from realizing his pathological nature and the need for help.

The content of the guardianship can be very broad, from simple and punctual assistance for a daily activity, to representation, in exceptional cases. It is the judge who must specify this content in the resolution that agrees or modifies the measures.

Cleaning

Both the Court of First Instance and the Provincial Court, under the previous regulations, agreed, firstly, to modify their capacity and, secondly, a support measure consisting of assistance for order and cleaning of their home , with appointment as tutor of the competent autonomous community.

Eliminate legal incapacity

The Chamber understands that this first pronouncement, after the reform of Law 8/2021, must be suppressed, since any judicial declaration of modification of the capacity disappears from the legal regulation.

The plenary session considers that the personality disorder that affects the interested party directly affects the exercise of their legal capacity, also in their social and neighborhood relationships, and highlights the need for the agreed care support measures.

Measures that, according to the new law, must respect the maximum autonomy of the person, even against the will of the person concerned, because the disorder caused by the situation of need prevents them from having a clear awareness of their situation.

Guardianship or trusteeship

The main difference between guardianship and conservatorship is in the capacity of the person. While the one who is subject to guardianship lacks capacity and, therefore, needs representation, the one under guardianship is capable and only requires a complement of capacity.

Social isolation

The judges highlight that “it has been proven that XXX suffers from a personality disorder, a conduct disorder that leads him to collect and accumulate garbage obsessively, while abandoning his personal hygiene and food care. The court echoes of the reports of the forensic doctor and the social services, which highlight, in order to take charge of the situation, the null awareness that XXX has of the disorder he suffers and of its consequences, specifically, he is not aware of the serious deficiencies in hygiene and nutrition that he has, as well as the nauseating smell that he and the house give off, which is perceived on the landing of the apartment and at the entrance of the building. This situation has ended up causing him a situation of social isolation, even from his neighbors and former friends, who also suffer the consequences. Apart from the conduct disorder, their cognitive faculties are not substantially affected. “

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