Extreme Product Champions and their effect on P

In a decision from October 2014 which was only very recently placed on Bailii (and which we are very grateful for to Caroline Hurst of Switalskis for bringing to our attention), District Judge Mainwaring-Taylor made a heartfelt plea to an ‘extreme product champion’ to reflect upon the consequences of his actions.  In Re MW [2014] EWCOP B27, proceedings concerning an elderly lady, MW, had been concluded with a decision that she should continue living in a care home rather than being cared for by her son at home.   A significant factor in that decision had been the fact that he had taken, and posted on a private section of YouTube, a video of his mother in an extremely distressed state at home.

Some two years later, the matter came back to court, it appears because of the son’s continued conduct and – in particular his continued practice of videoing.    In a description that may ring bells, District Judge Mainwaring-Taylor noted that “[Mr W] is entirely convinced that in all the circumstances he is always right and he produces what he says are justifications.  Unfortunately, Mr W’s justifications really centre on his needs, rather than on his mother’s needs. I quite accept and believe that Mr W is entirely genuine in thinking and having a perception that what he is doing and wants is in his mother’s best interests, but, sadly, that is simply not the case.

In maintaining the status quo, namely that Mrs W should continue to reside in the care home, the judge made a plea that:

“Perhaps in his future dealings and thoughts, Mr W might think that, every time he does something which provokes the need for court proceedings, he is directly diminishing his mother’s resources. Because it always seems to get to the stage where the matter has to come before the court and, as soon as that happens, Mrs W needs representation; that representation has to be through the Official Solicitor and it has to be funded. As long as Mrs W has financial resources, it will be she who funds it, rather than the monies being there for her care and comfort.”

Comment

Cases such as this (and that of A Local Authority v M & Ors [2014] EWCOP 33 and Re A and B (Costs and Delay) [2014] EWCOP 48 will no doubt be considered carefully by the ad hoc Rules Committee when in due course in the course of their deliberations as to how to seek to enshrine into the Rules mechanisms to ensure that the resources of the court – and, significantly, the resources of privately paying Ps – are deployed proportionately.

[A version of this note appeared in the March 2015 39 Essex Chambers Mental Capacity Law Newsletter]

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