Vincent Lambert: French State Council Rules to Continue Collegial Procedure


A new legal phase ended on January 31, 2018, in the doleful case of Vincent Lambert. The State Council rejected the parents’ appeal requesting urgent suspension of the fourth collegial procedure initiated last September by Dr. Sanchez, which could lead to care being stopped, and therefore lead to their son’s death.
Vincent Lambert has been at the University Hospital in Reims since 2008, in a pauci-relational state following a serious car accident. Since that date, three collegiate procedures for possibly stopping due care have taken place at the hospital. Following Dr. Kariger’s departure, the first two procedures are no longer relevant, and the third was suspended until further notice by Dr. Simon, who also left the department (see the reference note on all the legal proceedings concerning Vincent Lambert).
The parents considered that the fourth collegiate procedure was legitimate. They filed an appeal with the Administrative Court in Chalons-en-Champagne, where their case was rejected. They then appealed (via an emergency procedure) with the State Council to have the collegial procedure suspended and cancelled.
The French State Council judges ruled in accordance with the rapporteur’s arguments, whereby the referred procedure did not conform to the situation, since the collegial procedure is only a preparatory step intended to clarify the situation for the doctor in charge of making the decision. Only the final decision can be appealed using an emergency procedure.
Following this judgment, the collegial procedure initiated by Dr. Sanchez is likely to continue in the coming weeks. Whatever the nature of the resulting decision, it will undoubtedly be legally contested since Vincent Lambert’s family remains deeply divided on what should be done for his welfare.

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