People may need to apply to the Court of Protection for a range of reasons, for example where a deputy needs to be appointed to make certain decisions. There are some kinds of best interests decisions which can only be made by the Court of Protection, and cases where there is doubt or dispute about a person’s capacity or best interests which cannot be resolved by other means may need to go to the Court of Protection; guidance on this is given in Chapter 8 of the MCA Code of Practice. The Court of Protection also hears ‘appeals’ against deprivation of liberty authorisations under the deprivation of liberty safeguards.
If you think that you may need to make an application to the Court of Protection, it is best if you can find a specialist solicitor to help you to do so. We are unable to recommend solicitors ourselves, but the Law Society has a page which helps people to find a solicitor. The Mental Health Lawyers Association lists some lawyers specialising in Court of Protection work (here), although not all lawyers working in this area are listed there.
Sometimes people are unable to instruct a solicitor to assist them in applying to the Court of Protection because they are unable to secure funding to do so. If you are making an application to the Court of Protection yourself, then you should consult the Government’s website on applying to the Court of Protection. You should ensure that you have completed the correct forms and read the appropriate guidance. You may have to pay a fee, but there are exemptions and remissions for people with limited financial resources. You may find it useful to consult the Court of Protection Practice Directions, which are instructions from the Court about particular issues. The Court of Protection also has its own rules which must be followed. Please note in particular the Court’s rules and practice directions on costs. Please also note that non-means tested legal aid is available for people who are deprived of their liberty under the deprivation of liberty safeguards, and their representatives. Some panel members of the Bar Pro Bono Unit are willing to take on Court of Protection cases without a fee.
Barrister Victoria Butler-Cole has also prepared a basic guide to the Court of Protection which is most useful. The Court of Protection Handbook (and its accompanying website) is also a very useful resource on the processes and procedure of the court.