The Court of Protection will be giving the following instructions in relation to telephone hearings at First Avenue House, responding to uncertainties as to responsibilities and costs. They are to be read with the Guidance on Remote Hearings published by the Vice-President on 31 March 2020.
Please find below dial in details for the telephone hearing listed before judge xyz on date at time.
JOIN USING YOUR PHONE
- Choose the correct phone number to dial:
– Freephone 0800 917 1956
– United Kingdom Direct: 0203 463 9741
– International dial in +44203 463 9741
- At the phone prompt, provide the participant passcode: 5########## followed by #
The charge for the connection to your remote hearing is paid for by HMCTS. However, charges may be applied by your service provider and may vary depending on what contract you currently have with them. It is your responsibility to check whether you will be charged for this connection with your network provider
The participant passcode is for one time use only.
[Note, the reference to ‘charges’ in the passage in bold is a reference to the fact that, if the right number is not used, the call will not be free – on some networks, 0800 will be the Freephone number; on others the 0203 number].
The HIVE mailbox (email@example.com) is now live, and can be used as the first point of contact to raise specific issues relating to the operation of the Court of Protection during the pandemic. It is not to be used for issues relating to specific cases (for instance case progression or appeals).
The members of the HIVE group are:
- Hayden J
- HHJ Carolyn Hilder
- Sarah Castle (the Official Solicitor)
- Vikram Sachdeva QC
- Lorraine Cavanagh QC
- Nicola Mackintosh QC (Hon)
- Alex Ruck Keene
- Joan Goulbourn (Ministry of Justice)
- Mary MacGregor (Office of Public Guardian)
- Kate Edwards
Senior Judge Hilder has approved the circulation of the following update (17 April 2020) in terms of the approach being taken to COPDOL11 applications during the period of Covid-19 restrictions:
The DoLS team is now accepting COPDOL11 applications by e-mail. Each application received will be added to the current list of matters awaiting determination, so that cases will be considered in order of receipt unless the patient is awaiting discharge from hospital (referral to the resident urgent business judge) or has a planned imminent move date (referral to the next available DoLS judge).
All applications must be complete including medical evidence as without this the court does not have jurisdiction.
The documents must be a separate PDF and clearly identified i.e. DOL11, COP3, Best interest etc.
As a temporary measure whilst the pandemic is restricting normal working, documents will be accepted with an electronic signature. Photographs of any documents provided by the Rule 1.2 Representative are acceptable provided they are fully legible.
Orders are now being sent to Local Authorities and CCGs by e-mail. The care plan (which often runs to 50 or so pages) will not be appended to the e-mail. As the date of the care plan is referred to in the order and Local Authorities/CCGs have their own original copy, hard copies will be sent by post to Local Authority/CCG offices as normal.
Stayed applications are not being progressed during the pandemic because General Visitors are not available. Orders which have already been made lifting a stay will have a longer period for submission of updated documents when the order is issued.
If it is apparent that you are unable to comply with deadlines for filing documents, please inform the DOLS team by e-mail of the proposed date for filing, and we will diarise the matter accordingly. If the progress of the case is affected, the matter will be referred to a judge for consideration.
Please try not to chase us for updates on applications unless there is specific urgency. We are now a team of only 4 staff working hard to assist every LA and CCG in the country.
[For further guidance about the COPDOL11 process more generally, see the 39 Essex Chambers guide here].
Practitioners may be interested to read the letter to District and Circuit judges, sitting in civil and family cases, from the Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls and President of the Family Division. You can read the letter here.
It is a helpful progress report on the experience of remote working, by both telephone and video-link. It notes:
“Across all jurisdictions, around 40% of all hearings have continued, some in the traditional way, others using phone, video or the internet. It is easier to continue in this way with some types of court and tribunal cases than others. The overwhelming majority of those have not been long hearings involving difficult evidence or high emotion, and for obvious reasons.”
The letter does not refer to the experience of the Court of Protection, or to cases involving deprivation of liberty.
HMCTS has issued its family business priorities for April 2020, i.e. what work must be done, what work will be done, and what work HMCTS will do its best to do. In relation to the Court of Protection, they are divided as follows:
Must be done
- Urgent applications
- Applications under Mental Capacity Act 2005, s 16A and s 21A
- Serious medical treatment cases
- Deprivation of Liberty
- Form COP1 Statutory Wills – where person is near end of life.
- Safeguarding applications via the Office of the Public Guardians
Work that will be done
- Gatekeeping and allocation referrals –care
- Gatekeeping and allocation referrals – private
- Other family care orders/documents/emails
- Court of Protection – welfare cases
Work that “we will do our best to do”
- Court of Protection –property and affairs
The Court of Protection Bar Association has issued guidance (approved by Hayden J) as to the effective conduct of remote hearings, dated 7 April 2020. It is available here.