Court of Protection Veil of Secrecy Lifted.
At least, they are trialing extended access to the public and press as a pilot until August 2017. The scheme to make the CoP more open and continues the trial which has allowed both public and media to gain greater access to Court of Protection hearings.
The specialist Court makes decisions where individual have not been able to put sound legal planning in place in advance. This often comes as a shock to family and friends whose views may be ignored in the face of professional advice from doctors and social workers. The decisions the Court of Protection makes for folk who lack capacity to make them themselves, applying a best interests test concern two areas:
- The personal welfare of an individual – for example, where they live, who they see, medical matters etc etc.
- Property and financial affairs.
With rare exceptions, such as serious medical cases, hearings have previously been in private with only those directly involved in the case attending. This has led to a great deal of criticism and accusations of “Star Chamber” tactics. The pilot started in January 2016, has changed this so that the Court will usually allow its hearings will be in public and make an anonymity order to protect the people involved.
The extended pilot will continue to provide evidence to assess whether the Court should in future hold its hearings in private or in public and whether access should be given to the media but not the public.
Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service have changed how court lists are displayed, to provide an idea of what the case is about. This allows the media and members of the public to make an informed decision on whether to attend the hearing.
The Court of Protection’s main base is in London but it also sits throughout England and Wales. The pilot is expected to run in all regions until August 2017 to allow for the changes to be fully tested.
To access the extended pilot practice direction and latest pilot order, click here.