Court of Protection Enquiries.

Handling enquiries in the Court of Protection (COP) Department has taught me that not many people fully understand our work and how we can help them. Below, I will offer a bit of background as to who we are, what we do, and what we need during the initial contact, in order to be able to assist you.

The legislation which underpins COP work is the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA), which came into force in October 2007. Other qualifying legislation includes the Code of Practice (2007) which is to be considered alongside the MCA, and the Court of Protection Rules (2017). It is important to note that COP law is new and still developing. As a department our main functions are assisting members of the public making applications to the Court of Protection. Applications can consist of applying to be appointed as a deputy to manage the property and affairs or health and welfare of someone who lacks capacity, or single applications such as replacement trustees, permission to buy or sell property or permission to loan money, to name a few. We also manage the property and affairs as professional deputies, attorneys and professionally administer personal injury trusts as professional trustees.

Why is Lanyon Bowdler’s department called Court of Protection when we’re not a court?

We are experts at dealing with the Court of Protection (“the Court”) and navigating its requirements. The Court’s jurisdiction is limited to people who lack mental capacity in the specific area that they are being asked to consider; this can be wide reaching such as property and affairs, or more specific such as residence. The Court is headquartered in London, however, there are regional hubs across England and Wales as well. Lanyon Bowdler’s nearest regional hub is in Birmingham. While it is possible to apply to the Court without the use of a firm like Lanyon Bowdler, COP applications can be complex. As a department we are skilled at dealing with the nuances and complexity that can occur within applications to the Court, which means we can guide and support you through the process.

What information do we need?

Initially, to be able to establish how we can assist you, it is helpful for us to obtain as much information as possible. We not only need to know the details of who is contacting us, but also the date of birth, full name and address of the person who is alleged to lack capacity (“P”) and the proposed deputies. We also require financial information if the application is in regards to P’s property and affairs. This includes ownership and value of any property as well as income, investments and any money in current accounts. We need this information to decide what next steps are appropriate to the individual circumstances. Whilst we appreciate this can sometimes be frustrating for those seeking urgent help, it is essential for us to be able to advise you accordingly.

Who can be a deputy?

A wide variety of people can be appointed, usually a family member, a trusted friend, or a professional. Simply put, a deputy is someone who is appointed by the Court to act in an individual’s best interests, overseen by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). Practically, this means that, as a department, we assist members of the public with their applications to the Court in the event of a loved one having lost mental capacity. You might find it useful to take a look at our blog, which explains what happens if someone lacks capacity to manage their property and affairs. In this instance, we would be helping somebody apply to be a lay deputy. Alternatively, professional deputies can also be appointed by the Court to make best interests decisions on behalf of someone who lacks capacity.

Why is a capacity assessment needed?

As the Court are only able to make decisions with regards to people who are deemed to lack capacity, they require evidence of this. To evidence this, the Court have prescribed forms which have to be included with the application papers.

How do capacity assessments work?

Capacity assessments are undertaken to assess whether or not an individual has capacity to manage either their health and welfare, or their property and affairs. This could be undertaken by range of professionals such as a GP, a social worker or an independent capacity assessor. Any assessment will be undertaken in conditions that give the individual the best possible chance of success. Nevertheless, if an individual lacks capacity and has not previously created a lasting power of attorney (LPA) or the LPA does not include the relevant powers, then an application to the Court will be needed. However, if capacity is established, then it may be possible an LPA could be created instead, if this would be appropriate.

In summary, we act as an efficient and approachable way of dealing with the Court itself and we act in the best interests of clients who have lost mental capacity. If you have a query and aren’t sure what to do next or whether you need to apply to the Court, we are on hand to advise. We can be contacted on 01743 280280 and would be happy to help you with your enquiry.

In terms of other helpful resources, Danielle Lloyd has explained some of the jargon that is used in COP work in this blog.

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