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Edward Bennett
Edward Bennett
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CONTEMPT: Re Whiting
Date:10 JAN 2014
Law Reporter

(Family Division, Hayden J, 13 December 2013)

In proceedings in the Court of Protection in relation to a vulnerable adult who suffered from learning disabilities, the court was asked to determine the appropriate care package including accommodation. During proceedings it came to light that the woman had entered into a relationship with a man who was convicted of a sexual offence relating to the exploitation of a vulnerable adult and an injunction was granted to protect her. The terms prevented the man from contacting her, attending her address and threatening unlawful violence against her.

When the local authority became aware that the man had breached the injunction an application for committal was made. He was alleged to have telephoned the woman, spoken to her in an aggressive manner, made verbal threats to her and to have encouraged her to visit him at his address. Due to procedural irregularities the case was not heard until over a year after the breaches had taken place.

The allegations were found to have been loosely drafted, in particular, the actual dates of the alleged breaches were not certain. In addition one of the allegations was based on second hand hearsay. The drafting lacked the degree of specificity and that was required in this type of application. The local authority had not discharged the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt and the application for committal would be refused.

Hayden J highlighted the point that a range of orders are on offer in the Court of Protection to protect the vulnerable but that they needed to be deployed with forensic rigour and where possible subject to public scrutiny.