In proceedings instigated by Vincent Lambert's parents' lawyers, the administrative court of Châlons-en-Champagne "considered it necessary, in order to rule on the merits of their application, to have recourse to expert opinion, which should determine whether Vincent Lambert’s clinical condition has changed since 2014, the date of the last expert opinion requested by the Council of State". The court considered that the reasons for the decision to stop Vincent Lambert's treatment on the grounds of "unreasonable obstinacy" produced by Dr Sanchez at the end of the collegial procedure were not sufficient (cf. Dr. Sanchez's decision once again places Vincent Lambert on the brink of death).
The task will be entrusted to "a panel of three doctors qualified either in neurology or in physical and rehabilitation medicine". They must "describe, after clinical examination, Vincent Lambert’s current state", within "one month, from the constitution of the panel" and, "based on the expert opinion ordered by the Council of State in 2014, and whose conclusions are recorded in the report of 26 May 2014", give their opinion on the evolution of the patient's "clinical condition". Finally, they are responsible for "deciding on Vincent Lambert's swallowing capacity; to say whether it is likely to allow, eventually, and possibly after rehabilitation, a functional diet and hydration and to provide the judge with any information that would be useful in resolving the dispute".
Should they file a request to the panel of experts, one of the clinical examinations will be conducted in the presence of Pierre and Viviane Lambert, David Philippon and Anne Lambert. Another will be carried out in the presence of Rachel Lambert and François Lambert.
At the end of this procedure, "the parties will again be summoned to a hearing before the administrative court so that a final ruling can be made on their application".
For Maître Paillot, the lawyer for Vincent Lambert's parents, "it is not a definitive victory because everything hinges on the expert opinion, but it is an initial and great victory", and he applauded the court’s "measure of caution" and "its disavowal" of Dr Sanchez.
The Tribunal also considered that "the intervention of the French union of associations of families of victims of head and brain injuries" in this case was legitimate.
However, "the request to transfer Vincent Lambert to another care facility, or another department of the Reims University Hospital, is rejected".
Afp, Fanny Lattach (20/04/2018) ; Jean-Yves Nau (20/04/2018) ; le Figaro, Stéphane Kovacs (20/04/20118)