For centuries English law has provided a Court for people who lack the mental capacity (be it by age related illness, accident or otherwise) to make important decisions about their affairs and how they are to be treated and cared for.
The Court of Protection is a specialist Court to safeguard people who lack mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. In limited circumstances the Court of Protection may also become involved in a matter concerning a child.
If it is proved that a person does not have mental capacity, the Court of Protection can make decisions for him or her about finances, welfare and medical treatment and other matters. The Court can appoint others, called deputies, to become responsible for the management of that person’s affairs and welfare.
Referral to the Court of Protection
The Court of Protection will have authority to decide issues when a person lacks mental capacity. The sort of situations concerning a person who lacks (or is alleged to lack) mental capacity which might be referred to the Court of Protection include:
- Appointing a deputy for someone who does not have a lasting power of attorney or enduring power of attorney;
- A dispute over a lasting power of attorney or enduring power of attorney;
- An elderly relative to whom access is denied to other family members;
- A person may be suffering from neglect or mistreatment;
- A person has been removed from the family’s care by social services which allege the family are unable to care for the person or which raise “safeguarding” issues;
- An application to approve to certain types of medical treatment;
- A person who feels that he or she is being forced to submit to care provided by social workers or medical people which that person does not want;
- An application seeking to prohibit a specific person from having contact with a vulnerable person.
The Public Guardianship Office
The Public Guardianship Office is the administrative arm of the Court of Protection. It is responsible for providing services for people with mental incapacity.