Inside the Court of Protection

Publication Date30 Nov 2012
AuthorAlison Brammer
SubjectHealth & social care,Sociology
Inside the Court of Protection
Alison Brammer
Purpose – This paper aims to summarize the work of the Court of Protection.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper outlines the history and range of applications within the
jurisdiction of the Court, drawing from the Mental Capacity Act and the Code of Practice. Reference is
made to annual reports of the work of the court which profile its workload. Finally there is a review of a line
of case law dealing with the question of media attendance and reporting of cases before the court.
Findings – The Court in its current form was established under The Mental Capacity Act, 2005 and is
a significant decision-making body in the UK within adult safeguarding practice concerning adults
whose decision-making capacity is impaired. The implications of several specific cases are discussed.
Originality/value – This paper provides a unique insight into the work of the Court of Protection and the
implications of recent decisions by the Court for adult safeguarding.
Keywords Mental Capacity Act, Court of Protection, Decision making, Safeguarding, Case law,
Legal decisions, United Kingdom, Law courts, Disabilities
Paper type General review
The Mental Capacity Act, 2005 established a new Court of Protection (COP), with jurisdiction
over all aspects of the legislation. It became operational in 2007. Case law decisions from
this court are of increasing importance in guiding adult safeguarding practice. This article
provides an outline of the role of the court, includes key findings from the annual reports
of the court’s activities and focuses on an area where the court has received some criticism,
namely its perceived secrecy[1]. Future issues of The Journal of Adult Protection will include
case commentaries highlighting the practice implications of the developing caselaw.
The Court of Protection
The court has a central office in London, but may sit anywhere in England and Wales, as one
of its objectives is to be more accessible than its predecessor.The cour t is supported by the
roles of Public Guardian (Hartley-Jones, 2011) and COP Visitor. The Official Solicitor will
usually act for the person who lacks capacity.
The court has an extensive range of powers set out in the Act relating to personal welfare
(e.g. where to live; contact; consent to treatment), and property and affairs (e.g. managing a
financial settlement; executing a will), of adults lacking the relevant capacity. The court may
make declarations (interim and final) as to whether a person lacks capacity for a decision
(e.g. where to live) and the lawfulness of any acts done in relation to the person. The validity
of a Lasting Power of Attorney may also be considered by the court. Where ongoing decision
making is required the court can appoint (and may remove) a ‘‘deputy/ies’’ to make personal
welfare, property and affairs decisions. A decision by court is preferred to the appointment
of deputy. The guiding principles of the Act apply, thus, decisions must be made in the best
interests of the individual.
DOI 10.1108/14668201211286822 VOL. 14 NO. 6 2012, pp. 297-301, QEmerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1466-8203
PAGE 297
Alison Brammer is based in
the Department of Law,
University of Keele,
Keele, UK.

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