Court of Protection becomes transparent

On 29 January 2016 a new pilot scheme was announced to make the Court of Protection more transparent.

This means that for the first time the media and press will have access to Court of Protection hearings whereas historically hearings have been heard in public, with reporting restrictions imposed to protect identities.

For many years activities undertaken by the Court of Protection in relation to the administration of the financial affairs and the health and welfare of individuals has been a mystery.  Whilst cases have been open to the public and cases have been reported this has been with the anonymity of those involved being protected.

The Court of Protection was established by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It is responsible for:

  • deciding whether someone has the mental capacity to make a particular decision for themselves
  • appointing deputies to make ongoing decisions for people who lack mental capacity
  • giving people permission to make one-off decisions on behalf of someone else who lacks mental capacity
  • handling urgent or emergency applications where a decision must be made on behalf of someone else without delay
  • making decisions about a lasting power of attorney or enduring power of attorney and considering any objections to their registration
  • considering applications to make statutory wills or gifts
  • making decisions about when someone can be deprived of their liberty under the Mental Capacity Act

The Court of Protection deals with about 25,000 applications under the Act each year.

From 29 January a new pilot Practice Direction will apply to new hearings that pass through the Court.  Hearings set prior to 29 January will still be governed by the old reporting rules.  Under the new pilot scheme the media and public will be able to attend hearings, unless a specific exclusion is applied.

The pilot is expected to run throughout England and Wales for six months when analysis will be undertaken to assess the success of the scheme.

Court of Protection cases are of interest to each and everyone of us as the decisions made by the Court affect the way our attorneys behave and can act on your behalf.  A more transparent Court is in everyone’s best interest.

Published by Kelly Duke 26 February 2016