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.