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Local authorities and the Court of Protection’s welfare jurisdiction in 2013–14 (£)

Date:24 MAR 2015
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Lucy Series, Adam Mercer, Katie Mobbs, Abigail Walbridge, Phil Fennell and Julie Doughty,  Centre for Health and Social Care Law, Cardiff University

Since the Court of Protection (CoP) was established by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA), local authorities have increasingly been involved in welfare proceedings relating to their community care and safeguarding functions, or their role as supervisory bodies under the MCA deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS).

This article reports the findings of a survey of local authorities’ involvement in CoP welfare proceedings during 2013–14. Local authorities in England were on average involved in three welfare cases in that year, and several were involved in over 10; use of the CoP’s welfare jurisdiction by Welsh local authorities and local health boards was significantly lower. Almost two-thirds of applications involved a person who was deprived of their liberty and most were made by local authorities themselves. Applications from families, advocates and the relevant person were rare, but more applications were made by the relevant person or their advocate when they were subject to a DoLS authorisation.

We raise concerns about the low number of DoLS cases. Local authorities’ estimates of the cost and duration of CoP welfare proceedings reinforce recent concerns about cost and delay. We discuss the implications of these findings in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling in
P (By His Litigation Friend the Official Solicitor) v Cheshire West and Chester Council and Another; P and Q (By Their Litigation Friend the Official Solicitor) v Surrey County Council [2014] UKSC 19, [2014] COPLR 313.

The full version of this article appears in issue 1 of 2015 of Elder Law Journal.

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