We have been asked to publicise an important change to the way in which health and welfare applications and section 21A applications are issued.
As the regionalisation project moves ahead, these applications will be issued from regional centres, starting with the South West (Bristol) Regional Hub, as from 30 April 2018.
The other regional centres will begin issuing their own applications from 25 June 2018.
This does not apply to serious medical treatment cases or to property and affairs cases.
Practitioners may have received a letter from HMCTS with essential information about how the new process will work, including how issue fees should be paid. You can read the letter here.
HMCTS explain that they will try to attend user group meetings in the regional hubs before the pilot starts in that reason.
We are very pleased to confirm that on 2 April 2018 HMCTS introduced the process of appointing accredited legal representatives (ALRs) of the court’s own motion, in appropriate cases. This means that the “menu” of options for representing P, as set out in COPR r1.2 is now complete.
We hope that the court will take advantage of the cadre of ALRs who have gone through what appears to be the testing process of securing appointment to the Law Society’s Mental Capacity Accreditation Scheme.
We’re aware that some practitioners have expressed concern that, in circumstances where P has been referred by his or her RPR to a solicitor who has secured legal aid, the court may then appoint a different solicitor as ALR. There are understandable anxieties about lack of continuity for P and duplication of work.
We suggest that there is a pragmatic solution. A solicitor who has been working with P, perhaps after a referral by an RPR, and who then issues a section 21A challenge could file a statement alongside Form DLA which sets out the solicitor’s involvement with P so that the court is aware of the issue of continuity when deciding which of the rule 1.2 options to select. An accredited solicitor who wishes to be appointed as such could also file a COP9 requesting appointment.
We are very interested to hear about the experience of practitioners as the new scheme gathers pace.