Council bosses have agreed to pay a 91-year-old woman £45,000 damages for being "deprived of her liberty" when staying in a care home.
The woman's son had taken legal action against Essex County Council, in a case described as "unusual if not unprecedented", after becoming unhappy about care arrangements.
Mr Justice Cobb approved the settlement at a hearing in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to take decisions are considered, in London on Friday.
Essex council bosses had wanted to prevent journalists from reporting the latest development in the case and said the hearing should be staged behind closed doors.
A lawyer representing the council said the public had "no interest" in knowing settlement terms.
But Mr Justice Cobb ruled the hearing would be staged in public after a lawyer representing the woman suggested people might suspect a cover-up if journalists were locked out.
The judge said the pensioner, now living with her son in Essex, could not be identified.
Her son had complained that arrangements made had unlawfully deprived her of her liberty.
Mr Justice Cobb did not give detail of care arrangements or of the man's criticisms.
He was told the council had not made any "formal admissions".
But he said bosses had offered £45,000 and their offer had been accepted.
He heard council bosses had spent about £50,000 on lawyers and said they had also agreed to pay £36,000 of the man's £58,000 legal bills.
Mr Justice Cobb said it was "immeasurably difficult" to put a financial value of the deprivation of liberty.
But he said he thought that £45,000 was "just, fair and proportionate".
The money will be held on trust.