Judgment from the Vice President in three conjoined appeals concerning the correct approach to the appointment of Personal Welfare Deputies and whether the current law is confusing.
Application by the P against a decision that he lacked capacity to litigate on his own behalf in proceedings brought by Dorset County Council. Appeal dismissed.
The P was diagnosed as suffering from an impairment of, or disturbance in, the functioning of his mind or brain arising out of a persistent delusional disorder. Dorset County Council had sought the appointment of a deputy to manage the P’s property and affairs on the basis of his apparent inability to do so on his own account. The P wanted to conduct the substantive proceedings on his own account but the court held that he lacked capacity to do so. The P appealed this decision.
The court dismissed the appeal. In relation to the P’s first ground of appeal (no reasonable grounds for believing he lacked litigation capacity), the court could see no basis on which it could be said that his proposed appeal would have a real prospect of success. In relation to his second ground (failure to understand the P’s submissions reduced to writing in his witness statement), again there was nothing in his second ground of appeal which led the court to consider that this ground had any real prospect of success.
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Can, or should, the court appoint as deputy the holder of a specified office or position (as distinct from a named individual holding such office at the time of the appointment)? Yes, as long as certain conditions are met.
An application was made by the current holder of the post for the appointment of “The Head of Business Development & Client Finance” of Focus Independent Adult Social Work C.I.C. as property and affairs deputy for the P. The court had to decide whether the current holder of such a post, as opposed to a named individual, could be appointed as deputy, and, if they could, whether there should be any specific requirements in the order of appointment in respect of notification to the court and/or the OPG of any change to the holder of the office of Head of Business Development and Client Finance at the Applicant company.
The court held that such an appointment could be made on condition that the deputyship order shall specifically include requirements that the holder of the post of Head of Business Development & Client Finance at the date of the appointment notifies the Public Guardian forthwith if:
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Application by a professional deputy to continue as deputy for many Patients and to be remunerated according to existing ACO orders. Charles J ordered that the COP review all of the orders and that the existing ones be set aside.
Judgment looking at the Court’s concerns, where an application has been made to appoint a Trust Corporation as a Deputy, about the information required for the Court to be satisfied that the corporation is a fit and proper legal person to hold such appointment.
Application by local authority to recover monies and costs through triggering of a bond taken out by E, P's parent, who was acting as Deputy at the time the bond was taken out. Application refused.
This case concerns an application by the Public Guardian (‘PG’) to revoke a Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’) for property and affairs.
This case concerned long-running proceedings relating to a young man aged 26, M, and had been ongoing for two years. His parents E and A, whilst the court found they greatly loved their son, had, in an earlier judgment of Baker J, (Re M  EWCOP 33] found that whilst M had ASD and a learning disability, his parents had fabricated his reaction to an MMR vaccination. They had claimed it had caused autism in M and had given many fabricated accounts as to his health, caused M to be subjected to unnecessary tests and interventions, failed in relation to dental treatment to obtain treatment and E as M’s deputy had controlled all aspects of his life and restricted access to him by number of professionals. The court found that these behaviours amounted to factitious disorder imposed on others and additionally E had a combination of personality disorders – narcissistic, histrionic and emotionally unstable.
The key issues in this judgment focused upon the identity of the deputy, deprivation of liberty, disclosure and publication of information relating to proceedings and some miscellaneous issues.
This was an application by a family member to be appointed as a joint deputy for property and affairs with the existing deputy, East Sussex County Council. The Council was unwilling to act jointly resulting in the applicant’s revised application to remove the Council as deputy and appoint him in its place.
Application for an appointment of a new deputy for property and affairs and a new trustee.
This case highlights how the court is able to manage family members engaged in excessive communication with the deputy and what directions can be sought.
The Patient A is 88 with a long-standing diagnosis of schizophrenia since the age of 17. She received ECT in the distant past and in 1962 underwent a frontal leucotomy at The Priory.
Previous proceedings under the Act’s which preceded the Mental Capacity Act took place and A’s sister B administered her estate. Subsequently B became A’s receiver and ultimately under the MCA became her deputy for property and affairs.
In 2012 when B was in her mid-80s B’s daughter C applied to be appointed as deputy in her place. It was supported by C’s siblings but opposed by their cousin D. On 20 May 2013 the court made an order appointing C as a deputy for property and affairs and due to D’s conduct the court departed from the general rule of costs in property affairs cases and ordered D to pay the entire costs of the proceedings save for £7,500 plus VAT which the court estimated would have been the costs if the application had been unopposed. D applied for permission to appeal and it was listed before the President. However very shortly before that hearing, a new GP examined A and told the family solicitors that in his opinion A had capacity to manage her property and affairs. Accordingly the appeal was conducted on two bases: firstly, jurisdictional due to capacity issues; and secondly, the costs ground - that it was procedurally unfair and wrong.
The President ordered that A be examined by a consultant psychiatrist and directed the hearing as to capacity in relation to managing her property and affairs. Subsequently, a report provided by Prof Robert Howard considered that A’s schizophrenia or a combination of schizophrenia and frontal lobe damage had caused significant impairment of the functioning of A’s mind and brain and as a consequence A was unable to understand, retain and use information relevant to decision-making concerning properties and affairs. The President made a declaration that A lacked capacity and at the time of the hearing lacked capacity in May 2013 to manage her property and affairs. The costs appeal was adjourned to a later date.
The hearing before Senior Judge Lush some 18 months later was that C wished to stand down as deputy and had filed an application seeking that a partner in a well-known London firm of solicitors be appointed in her place. Furthermore, C made an application, once appointed as deputy, that this solicitor exercise A’s power to appoint new trustees of certain settlements and appoint herself as a trustee.
D opposed the application on the grounds of geography (A lives in Yorkshire whereas the proposed deputy works in London), the charging rates for a London solicitor, the proposed deputy was unsuitable on the basis of her legal practice and in particular because she was frequently abroad (denied by solicitor) and that effectively there should also be an enquiry into A ‘s assets (he claimed that A had been deprived of assets and thus income). D later then also asserted that the solicitor was an expert on tax avoidance and furthermore that this solicitor would be called as a witness to give evidence in criminal proceedings which D said should be brought against one of the previously advocated solicitors of D to be appointed deputy of A.
The court applied the checklist in section 4 and section 16 (2 MCA ) noting the discretion the court has as to whom it appoints as a deputy and traditionally preferring to appoint a relative or friend rather than a complete stranger for practical reasons. The court also considered the judgment of Mr Justice Newey in Re Rodman; Long v Rodman and Others  EWHC 347 (CH)  COPLR 433 where it considers the costs charged by a professional deputy. The court found that due to D’s conduct no family member is now willing to act as a deputy and there is no alternative but to appoint a professional. The court found the checklist in section 4 MCA was not particularly helpful on this particular occasion and, looking at the solicitor’s CV and that of the firm, considered that both the solicitor and the firm had considerable know-how in dealing with families such as A’s and private wealth management. In relation to the costs he acknowledged that “whilst the fees were likely to be large it would be quite improbable that they will be excessive because the Senior Courts Cost Office will carry out a detailed assessment of their general management costs on a standard basis each year” (paragraph 50).
Not a particular case of note other than 3 matters:
Case summaries & Editor's comments on every Court of Protection case & other relevant decisions with links to the full judgment where available.
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