When to find facts?

The President of the Court of Protection Sir James Munby has handed down judgment in an appeal against an order of HHJ Rogers, in the case of AG.

AG had a moderate learning disability and autistic spectrum disorder.  She was removed from her home, where she held a tenancy, on 16 November 2011 in the context of a breakdown of care arrangements.  AG was supported by a package of care and the removal was preceded by allegations and counter-allegations by DG, AG’s mother and the care staff.   She was placed in residential care and an authorisation under schedule A1 MCA 2005 was granted.  on 24 November an application to the Court of Protection was made.

On 2 November 2012 HHJ Rogers approved the local authority’s plan which was to move AG from residential into semi-supported accommodation and by the time of the final hearing on 3 September 2013 AG had moved into a supported placement.  The final order followed a contested hearing with evidence from the independent social worker, DG and the allocated social worker.

The final order named the local authority as the decision-maker in respect of AG’s contact with her family, approved the proposed plan for AG’s supervised contact with DG to be increased and the level of supervision decreased, granted the local authority the power to enter and terminate a tenancy on AG’s behalf and made declarations as to AG’s capacity and best interests.  It was in AG’s best interests to reside in her current accommodation or “such other accommodation as may be identified by the local authority”, to receive a care package in accordance with her assessed needs and to have contact with her family in accordance with her wishes and feelings and the local authority’s contact plan.

DG appealed on four grounds all of which failed.   Perhaps the most significant for practitioners is the second ground- the complaint that the judge failed to make findings of fact.

DG’s position will resonate with many family members in Court of Protection proceedings where there is a background of allegations, which may or may not have been the subject of conclusions in safeguarding procedures, but which are never determined by the court.

DG argued that in the absence of a fact-finding procedure violated her rights under Article 8 ECHR.  The President’s conclusions are set out below:

  1. Further, it is said by Mr Dixon that, in failing to make findings of fact, Judge Rogers was wrong in law given: (i) the obligation under section 4(2) of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to consider all the relevant circumstances; (ii) the presence in this case of what are said to be a multitude of factors recognised in law as justifying the need for a fact finding hearing; (iii) the fact that the issue of contact was, it is said, inextricably linked with the allegations of abuse; (iv) the inconsistency of the local authority’s stance – professing to have no need for a fact finding hearing yet relying upon the allegations; and (v) that the failure to make such findings amounted to a procedural violation of Article 8. DG, it is said, was entitled to a hearing at which she could seek to be exonerated.
  2. In support of contention (ii), Mr Dixon placed reliance on the decisions of McFarlane J in A County Council v DP, RS, BS (By the Children’s Guardian) [2005] EWHC 1593 (Fam), [2005] 2 FLR 1031, para 24, and in Re W (Care Proceedings) [2008] EWHC 1118 (Fam), [2010] 1 FLR 1176, para 72, and the decision of Cobb J in LBX v TT (By the Official Solicitor as her Litigation Friend), MJ, WT, LT [2014] EWCOP 24, paras 49-50.

 

24. In the first of these cases, McFarlane J, as he then was, had to consider whether to direct a fact finding hearing in the context of care proceedings where by that stage no party was seeking any public law order. He identified the relevant authorities before summarising matters thus (para 24):

“The authorities make it plain that, amongst other factors, the following are likely to be relevant and need to be borne in mind before deciding whether or not to conduct a particular fact finding exercise:

(a) the interests of the child (which are relevant but not paramount);

  1. (b)  the time that the investigation will take;
  2. (c)  the likely cost to public funds;
  3. (d)  the evidential result;
  4. (e)  the necessity or otherwise of the investigation;
  5. (f)  the relevance of the potential result of the investigation

to the future care plans for the child;

(g) the impact of any fact finding process upon the other parties;

  1. (h)  the prospects of a fair trial on the issue;
  2. (i)  the justice of the case.”
  1. Proper application of these principles in the circumstances of the present case – and those circumstances were carefully analysed by reference to each of the factors identified by McFarlane J – clearly pointed, Mr Dixon says, to the need for a fact finding hearing. The argument was further bolstered by what the same judge had said in Re W (para 72):“It is important that the planning in the future for these children … is based upon as correct a view of what happened to R as possible. It is not in the children’s interests, or in the interests of justice, or in the interests of the two adults, for the finding to be based on an erroneous basis. It is also in the interests of all of the children that are before this court for the mother’s role to be fully understood and investigated.”
  2. Furthermore, as Mr Dixon pointed out, in LBX Cobb J accepted the submission (see paras 39, 49) that, suitably modified, these principles could be appropriately transported from the Family Division to the Court of Protection as providing a useful framework of issues to consider in relation to the necessity of fact finding in the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection.

 

  1. In support of contention (v), Mr Dixon prays in aid McMichael v United Kingdom (1995) 20 EHRR 205, paras 87, 91, and R (B) v Crown Court at Stafford [2006] EWHC 1645 (Admin), [2007] 1 WLR 1524, para 23. In the latter case, May LJ said this:“… the court will have regard to the decision-making process to determine whether it has been conducted in a manner that, in all the circumstances, is fair and affords due respect to the interests protected by article 8. The process must be such as to secure that the views of those whose rights are in issue are made known and duly taken account of. What has to be determined is whether, having regard to the particular circumstances of the case and notably the serious nature of the decisions to be taken, the person whose rights are in issue has been involved in the decision making process, seen as a whole, to a degree sufficient to provide them with the requisite protection of their interests. If they have not, there will be a failure to respect their family life and privacy and the interference resulting from the decision will not be capable of being regarded as “necessary” within the meaning of article 8.”
  2. In answer to this, the local authority and the Official Solicitor make common cause. Their arguments contain five essential strands.
  3. First, as Ms Khalique points out, by reference to the decision of Wall J, as he then was, in Re S (Adult’s Lack of Capacity: Care and Residence) [2003] EWHC 1909 (Fam), [2003] 2 FLR 1235, para 13, it is important to remember that, unlike in the case of care proceedings in relation to a child, there is no requirement to establish ‘threshold’ in the case of proceedings in relation to an adult, whether the proceedings are brought in the High Court under the inherent jurisdiction or, as here, in the Court of Protection.
  4. Wall J went on to point out (para 15) that the absence of any threshold criteria equivalent to those contained in section 31 of the Children Act 1989, “raises the question as to the extent to which (if at all) it is necessary, for the purposes of exercising the jurisdiction and deciding which course of action is in the best interests of S, to make findings of fact relating in particular to disputed historical issues.” His answer was as follows (paras 18, 21):

“18 … I agree that there must be good reason for local authority intervention in a case such as the present. Equally, if there are disputed issues of fact which go to the question of Mr S’s capacity and suitability to care for S, the court may need to resolve them if their resolution is necessary to the decision as to what is in S’s best interests. Findings of fact against Mr S on the two issues identified in para [16] would plainly reflect upon his capacity properly to care for S. But it does not follow, in my judgment, that the proceedings must be dismissed simply because the factual basis upon which the local authority instituted them turns out to be mistaken, or because it cannot be established on the balance of probabilities. What matters (assuming always that mental incapacity is made out) is which outcome will be in S’s best interests. There will plainly be cases which are very fact specific. There will be others in which the principal concern is the future, and the relative suitability of the plans which each party can put forward for both the short and long-term care of the mentally incapable adult. The instant case, in my judgment, is one of the cases in the latter category.

21 Whilst I acknowledge that in a relatively untried jurisdiction there are dangers in too relaxed an approach to historical issues, I am unable to accept the proposition that the approach to best interests is fettered in any way beyond that which applies to any judicial decision, namely that it has to be evidence based; that it excludes irrelevant material; and that it includes a consideration of all relevant material. In a field as complex as care for the mentally disabled, a high degree of pragmatism seems to me inevitable. But in each case it seems to me that the four essential building blocks are the same. First, is mental incapacity established? Secondly, is there a serious, justiciable issue relating to welfare? Thirdly, what is it? Fourthly, with the welfare of the incapable adult as the court’s paramount consideration, what are the balance sheet factors which must be drawn up to decide which course of action is in his or her best interests?”

31.   I respectfully agree with that analysis.

 

  1. Accordingly, it is submitted, the analyses of McFarlane J and Cobb J relied upon by Mr Dixon, have to be read in the context of the overarching principles articulated by Wall J, which, it is submitted, fully justified the approach adopted by Judge Rogers in the present case. I agree.
  2. Secondly, as both Ms Lattimer and Ms Khalique emphasise, Judge Rogers was careful to spell out, and accurately, both in the order of 23 July 2012 and in the passage from his judgment of 2 November 2012 which I have set out in paragraph 19 above, the legal consequences of there having been no fact finding hearing. It is worth repeating, and emphasising, part of what he said:“I bear in mind, however, that those allegations … are strongly denied by DG and, applying a normal approach to the forensic fact finding enquiry, in the absence of the specific findings. I do not hold them in the background as it were by way of a suspicion lurking over DG.”Moreover, there is, they say, nothing whatever to show that this was not in fact the approach adopted by Judge Rogers, both in November 2012 and subsequently in September 2013. Again, I agree.
  1. Thirdly, as Ms Lattimer correctly observes, the decision of Judge Rogers not to have a fact finding hearing must be viewed in context – a context in which, not least in the light of DG’s own stated position, matters had by July 2012 moved on significantly since November 2011. As Ms Khalique puts it, although the proceedings had been issued against the background of the safeguarding concerns arising out of the various allegations, matters had progressed and the court was faced with a different landscape. Judge Rogers correctly recognised that he was looking at the present position and looking to the future. Given how matters then stood, the degree of enquiry undertaken by Judge Rogers during the hearing in October / November 2012 was, says Ms Lattimer, entirely sufficient to inform the decisions in respect of future planning for AG that the court was tasked with making. A lengthy and costly finding of fact hearing would, she submits, have been entirely disproportionate. I agree.
  2. Fourthly, there is, Ms Lattimer submits, and I agree, nothing to suggest that Mr M’s analyses and recommendations were adversely influenced by the allegations.
  3. Finally, as both Ms Lattimer and Ms Khalique point out, DG never sought to challenge on appeal either the order of 23 July 2013 or the order of 2 November 2012. It is far too late to be taking the point now.
  4. In my judgment, Judge Rogers was fully entitled to proceed as he did and for the reasons he gave. I accept Ms Lattimer and Ms Khalique’s submissions.
  5. This ground of appeal fails.

The President rejected DG’s argument that by the time of the final hearing AG’s residence was a fait accompli.  He further rejected the argument that the contact arrangements breached DG’s Article 8 rights, and commented that the judge’s measured findings on this issue were founded in the evidence before him and demonstrated that he had put aside the unresolved allegations against DG.  The President found that DJ Rogers had been appropriately sensitive to balancing AG’s needs and wishes against her mother’s understandable wish to increase contact with her daughter.

He concluded with an important final observation

  1. Ms Khalique submits, and I am inclined to agree, that the local authority acted unlawfully in removing AG from OG in November 2011 and placing her at HH without having first obtained judicial sanction. Local authorities must seek and obtain appropriate judicial authority before moving an incapacitous adult from their home into other accommodation. Local authorities do not themselves have power to do this.

Comment:

This is a clear judgment which builds on the comments made in LBX v TT. The President’s conclusions are not surprising in light of the authorities.  His underlining of the distinction between COP cases and care cases- where there is a threshold- may lead to fewer cases in the COP sphere involving fact-finding hearings.  It is hard however not to sympathise with the desire of those like DG to be able to clear their name in these cases.

The clear statement that local authorities “do not have the power” to remove an incapacitous adult from “their home into other accommodation” is important and may raise the question as to when somewhere becomes “home” for an adult lacking capacity.

Transparency Pilot Going Live!

This important pilot will start in early 2016.  The majority of hearings will be heard in public, with steps taken to preserve the anonymity of P and P’s family.

 

The link below gives details as to the pilot with links to the new Practice Directions and precedent orders:

https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/announcements/court-of-protection-to-test-increased-access-for-public-and-media/

Practitioners will need to ensure their clients are aware of these changes.  The criteria against which the success of this pilot will be assessed will be important as will the methods used to assess it.  We will provide more information as soon as we are able.

 

 

Re X- the never-ending story.

Re NRA

 

Charles J has today (25 September) handed down the judgment in Re NRA [2015] EWCOP 59, sometimes described as Re X (2).

 

Summary

 

The case concerned welfare orders sought in respect of ten individuals whose care arrangements involved deprivation of their liberty. He described it as part of the “fall out” from the majority judgment in P v Cheshire West.

 

The case considered the procedural safeguards needed and at the heart of the case was the question as to whether P should be joined as a party. The Re X litigation had thrown up contradictory obiter views in respect of applications (which were referred to as “judicial detention” cases) that were seen as uncontentious. The President of the Court of Protection had delivered two judgments (Re X (1) and Re X (2)). The Court of Appeal judgment had concluded that the initial Re X judgments had been ultra vires. Therefore the Court of Appeal did not have jurisdiction to consider the appeal, but had strongly indicated what they would have done had they been able to do so, and all three judges considered that P should be a party.   The Court of Appeal had not considered ancillary issues such as, if P is always a party, who should act as litigation friend and whether there should be an oral hearing.

 

The cases were described as examples of “benevolent” arrangements that “many find difficult to characterize as a deprivation of liberty” (taken from the comments of Baroness Hale at para 10 in P v Cheshire West).

 

Charles J noted that in Cheshire West Baroness Hale referred to the need for “periodic checks” and suggested that these should not be stigmatizing. He cast doubt on whether this reflected the experience of family carers and noted that any simplified solution should recognize the central role of families and carers [para 12].

 

His approach was to consider what was required to satisfy requirements of common law and Convention rights, which he grouped under the heading “the safeguards” [para 24] and then what procedural steps would satisfy these in a practical effective and speedy way in cases of deprivation of liberty. Identifying the Safeguards entailed considering alternative ways of guaranteeing procedural fairness (“the requirements”) and whether these were likely to work (“the Effects”) [para 25].

 

Charles J acknowledged that the instinctive reaction of lawyers in England and wales would be that P should be a party in all cases in the Court of Protection because he will be affected and bound by them [para 34]; but that consideration of the fact that the overwhelming majority of cases relate to property and affairs and are uncontentious indicates that fairness does not always require this. He applied to the Court of Protection the comment in Re R (Care; Disclosure; Nature of Proceedings) [2002] 1 FLR 755 that family cases have both adversarial and investigatory aspects [para 36]. The requirements of fairness will be different depending on whether a case is or is not contentious. An independent check on each of the property and affairs cases – and deputyship applications- would be disproportionate; hence the presumption that P need not be a party in such cases.

 

The purpose of ss5 and 6 MCA was again to allow day to day decisions to be made by those involved in caring for P [para 40]. The test for such interventions (ie, is the intervention the least restrictive and in P’s best interests) is not different in substance from the test to be applied in Article 5 cases [para 41].

 

Moreover some adults with capacity are objectively deprived of their liberty by their care packages but have no alternative but to accept this as they lack the resources to bring judicial review proceedings [para 42].

 

Charles J accepted that a balance needed to be struck in order to acknowledge the risk that an apparently uncontentious package in P’s best interests may not in fact be either; and acknowledged the advantage for P of an outside check [para 44].

 

In many cases the appointment of a family member or friend, or the Official Solicitor will add little value other than to confirm the accuracy of information provided (and in some cases to uncover inaccuracies) [para 51].

 

Reviewing the statutory scheme under the MCA and DOLS Charles J noted that the Court does not determine whether P should or should not be deprived of his liberty but makes a determination of his best interests the corollary of which may be a deprivation of his liberty and thus require additional safeguards eg reviews and whether P should be a party [para 73]. The existence of a deprivation of liberty may further have relevance to the question of damages for breach of Article 5.

 

Although the Official Solicitor had agreed to accept an appointment to act under specific funding arrangements in 8 of the 10 cases (whereby some solicitors had agreed to carry out some preliminary work pro bono) the Official Solicitor had indicated that he would reach saturation point in the future absent additional funding.

 

Under the heading “legal aid” Charles J noted that the Lord Chancellor had been reviewing the impact of Cheshire West and the House of Lords recommendations to end the disparity between those detained under DOLS and those detained under the MCA for some time [para 95]. He noted that full representation would only be granted if there was to be or was likely to be a hearing [99 onwards] and rejected the suggestion that an oral hearing was always necessary and should not be listed simply to access legal representation.

 

He took the view that legal help would not be available once proceedings were issued and P was represented by a litigation friend [91] and even if this were incorrect the means requirements precluded this as a source of funding in most cases.

 

He concluded (correctly) that legal aid will only be a solution if the case proves contentious and requires a hearing.

 

He did not agree that a rule 3A representative would resolve the issue [116] as this did not provide P with the status of a party. He rejected the Law Society’s submission that an ALR could never be appointed in a case involving deprivation of liberty [117].

 

He noted the impact on resources of the Court of Protection of the joinder of P in all cases, as well as on the resources of litigation friends [124].

 

He concluded that a litigation friend need not always act through a solicitor. A litigation friend is not a party [143]. In comments which emphasise the rapprochement between the Court of Protection and the Mental Health Tribunal worlds, he referred to his judgment in YA v CNWL, where he likened the role of the appointed representative under TPR 11(7)(b) to a litigation friend who may sometimes have to over-ride P’s wishes. He returns to this analogy when considering the role of the RPR.

 

At paragraphs 158 onwards Charles J considered the availability of family or friends as potential litigation friends to P. This can be replete with difficulties where there is family conflict (as in Re UF) or a dissonance between the views of P and of his family (as in Re AJ).

 

In a comment which sits uncomfortably with the judgement of Baker J in Re AJ, Charles J does not agree that the RPR should challenge a standard authorization whenever P objects; but instead should decide whether to issue at all and then should only advance arguable points (again analogous to his views about the role of the Tribunal representative in YA): para 171-2.

 

Part 3 of the judgment contains the discussion on the question whether the Requirements and the Effects mean that P must be a party to ALL applications for welfare orders seeking a deprivation of liberty. He concludes that the answer is “no” and that he prefers the obiter reasoning of the President to the Court of Appeal: para 177.

 

This is because:

 

  • what fairness requires will depend on the context [para 187] where Charles J noted that in para 57 of the judgment in Winterwerp the court concluded that an Article 5(4) compliant process must “have a judicial character and gives the individual concerned guarantees appropriate to the kind of detention in question” [para 187 (iii)].
  • The comments in RP vUK about the margin of appreciation, which takes into account “all relevant factors” including the nature and complexity of the issue and what was at stake for P” [para 187 (v)].

He acknowledged the need to protect “the very essence” of Article 5 rights which will vary with each case [para 190].

 

The heart of the judgment is Charles J’s conclusions as to the “essence” of the rights guaranteed by Article 5.

 

These are set out below:

“The combination of the requirements of Article 5(1) and 5(4) to the initial decision making and the challenge of the decision made (see paragraph 182 above) shows that, when in reliance of Article 5(1)(e) there is or is going to be an objective deprivation of liberty, the essence of Article 5 is to provide safeguards that put a person who lacks the relevant capacity in a sufficiently equivalent position to a person who has that capacity and so who could himself:

  1. consider, test and decide between competing provisions for his care or treatment,
  2. consent to one of them, and
  • keep under review and challenge the arrangements put in place.

This gives rise to the need for a process that is directed to ensuring that the steps referred to in paragraph 164 (i) to (iii) above are adequately carried out or that their subject matter is adequately investigated by the court. Namely:

  • the elicitation and communication to the court of P’s wishes and feelings and the matters referred to in s. 4(6) of the MCA without causing P any or any unnecessary distress,
  • the critical examination from the perspective of P’s best interests, and with a detailed knowledge of P, the pros and cons of a care package, and whether it is the least restrictive available option, and
  • the review of the implementation of the care package and changes in P’s behaviour or health.

and in his view require

 

  • elicitation of P’s wishes and feelings and the matters referred to in s4(6) MCA “without causing P any or any unnecessary distress”;
  • critical examination of the pros and cons of the care plan from the perspective of P’s best interests and in the context of the least restructive alternative and
  • the review of its implementation and changes in P’s behaviour and health.”

 

The minimum standards required of procedural safeguards will vary from case to case and within the exceptions to Article 5, and within the issues which arise in each case [para 193]. He considers this consistent with Baroness Hale’s comments about the possibility of simplifying the safeguards in Cheshire West [para 195] which support the proposition that the COP rules can be applied flexibly.

 

Under the heading “Flaws and gaps in the reasoning of the Court of Appeal” [para 197 onwards] he criticizes the reasoning of Black LJ for treating “all deprivations of liberty as being effectively the same for the purpose of the application of the procedural safeguards” [para 205]. He distinguishes cases where deprivation of liberty is authorized purely because of P’s best interests from secure accommodation cases relating to children and these involve factors other than the paramountcy principle (such as risk to others, which also features in decisions to detain under the MHA); and this is relevant to the minimum standards question.

 

Nor does the Court of Appeal recognize that the relevant comparator is with an adult with capacity who consents to the deprivation of liberty because this is the role of the court under s16 (circular!- possibly an argument for reduced safeguards on review).

 

 

At para 215 Charles J refers to his conclusion in YA at paras 39-41 that legal representation is not a minimum requirement in all cases. He considered that in many cases family members will be best placed to act as litigation friends and provides examples from the 10 cases before him.[219-224].

 

At paragraphs 223- 229 Charles J considers the information provided in the streamlined procedure and how this could be improved. He recommends additional information, such as- importantly- details of when supervision is provided; use of sedation or assistive technology; what would happen if P tried to leave, and statements from those providing care to P [225].

 

He suggested that information should also be provided about any tenancy agreement; the participation of family and friends; and why it is considered that the case can be dealt with on the papers.

 

As litigation friends do not need to instruct solicitors; and as a hearing is not needed in all cases, there is very little benefit in making P a party and appointing a family member as a litigation friend rather than as a Rule 3A representative and where this is an available option this will provide P with the requisite safeguards [231-2]. There should be a direction to keep the care package under review. He considers that this can reliably secure P’s participation without making P a party and thus falls within the exceptions to the need for party status identified by Black LJ in the Re X judgment.

 

Where there is not a family member or friend who can be appointed this should not require joinder of P but instead the court should consider the use of s49 reports and summonses; and the “much better solution” of the Secretary of State for justice of appointing “Rule 3A representatives identified by the local authority”. He urged the Secretary of State and local authorities to consider “urgently” how this solution can be provided on the ground and recognized that it this not available this will need to be addressed [265-7].

 

He expresses the view that his conclusions do not discriminate for the purposes of Article 14 [para 268].

 

His conclusions are summarized in 269:

 

“A brief summary of my conclusions is that:

  • P does not have to be a party to all applications for welfare orders sought to authorise, and which when they are made will authorise, a deprivation of P’s liberty caused by the implementation of the care package on which the welfare order is based.
  • In two of the test cases before me I have made orders that reflect that conclusion and my conclusion that the procedural safeguards required by Article 5 are (and are best) provided in those cases by appointing a parent of P as P’s Rule 3A representative. As such, that parent as a continuation of the dedicated and devoted support given by P’s family to P and directed to promoting P’s best interests, in a balanced way, can best provide (a) the court with the information it requires about the care package and P, and (b) P’s participation in the proceedings. Also, that parent can and in my view will monitor the implementation of the care plan and so initiate any challenge to it or review of it that the parent considers should be made in P’s best interests.
  • I do not have a test case before me in which (a) P has not been joined as a party and the Official Solicitor has not agreed to act as P’s litigation friend, and (b) the appointment of a family member or friend as P’s Rule 3A representative without joining P as a party is not an available option. Such a test case or cases should be listed for hearing.
  • In contrast to the Court of Appeal in Re X and subject to further argument in such a test case or cases, I consider that the way in which the Court of Protection can at present best obtain further information and P’s participation in such cases is for it to exercise its investigatory jurisdiction to obtain information through obtaining s. 49 reports or through the issue of a witness summonses. This keeps the matter under the control of the court rather than invoking the necessity of appointing a litigation friend with the problems and delays that history tells us this entails and will entail and I have concluded is, or shortly will be, not fit for purpose.
  • I do not for a moment suggest that absent further resources being provided there will not be problems and delays in taking the course referred to in paragraph (4). Also, and importantly, I recognise that it would be focused on Article 5(1) and would not provide for monitoring on the ground until it is repeated from time to time for that purpose. But, the appointment of a litigation friend will also not provide that monitoring.
  • In such cases the argument advanced by the Secretary of State before me that a Rule 3A representative identified by the local authority be appointed shows that if this was a practically available option it would replicate the input that I have decided can be provided by an appropriate family member or friend and so satisfy the procedural safeguards required by Article 5 and common law fairness in non-controversial cases without joining P as a party.
  • That replication is an obvious solution that will provide the necessary safeguards more efficiently and at less expense than either
    1. the making of orders for s. 49 reports and the issuing of witness summonses perhaps coupled with more frequent reviews, or
    2. joining P as a party.
  • So I urge the Secretary of State and local authorities to consider urgently, and in any event before a test case or cases of this type are before the court, how this solution can be provided on the ground.”

Comment:

 

This is a decision focussed on practical solutions. It is of note however that much reliance is placed on the availability of resources – the Rule 3A representatives. There will of course be cases where family members and friends are able and willing to step into this role. There will be many other cases where P is unbefriended. In these cases, the court has two options. The first is to make use of s49 reports and the power to issue witness summonses to elicit the required information. This appears quite onerous, and can also be contentious- see the recent decision in RS. The second is the solution identified by the Secretary of State which is to appoint Rule 3A representatives “identified by the local authority.”

There must be some doubt as to the ability of local authorities- already struggling to meet their obligations to provide IMCA and Care Act advocacy- to conjure up another group of individuals who will step in and provide the safeguards needed. Nor is there any consideration given as to how these representatives will be funded.

The comments on YA and Re AJ can be seen as obiter as both judgments related to quite different scenarios. However it is noteable that in paragraph 145 Charles J appears to go further than he went in the YA judgment by expressly referring to the need for litigation friends (and by analogy Rule 11(7) representatives) to over-ride the wishes and feelings of patients without capacity.

It is worth remembering that those appointed as “Rule 3A” representatives may ask for directions under COPR 148A, which could include a request for P to be joined and a litigation friend appointed.

The possible use of “accredited legal representatives” (ALRs) if they become available was dealt with quickly at paragraph 117. There is currently no such panel of ALRs (although there is also no cohort of rule 3A representatives to be called on by local authorities). This would have been a practical solution at least in cases where P is entitled to legal aid. It is noted that in Re PD Baker J encouraged the possible use of ALRs in Schedule 3 cases. ALRs appointed in Re X types cases would have been well placed quickly to scrutinise and identify which cases require contested hearings and which really are uncontentious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re X continued

A series of cases applying for “judicial detention” listed before District Judge Marin have now been referred to the Vice President in what the judge referred to as a “complete impasse” because of the unavailability of litigation friends.

The judge noted an increase of such cases following the Court of Appeal’s decision in Re X.  Some were plainly substantive welfare disputes which would proceed accordingly.  However others were cases where the only issue was the need to authorise a deprivation of liberty.

The Official Solicitor had written to the court explaining that it would be impossible for him to accept an invitation to act in the anticipated number of cases.

DJ Marin considered whether a Rule 3A representative ( as opposed to a legal representative) could be a suitable means of allowing P’s participation, given that the Court of Appeal’s obiter dicta in Re X strongly suggests P should be a party.

He has asked the President to consider a number of questions, summarised here:

– whether P must be a party in all deprivation of liberty cases

-whether family members with an interest in the case can be litigation friends

– whether a Rule 3A representative was sufficient in such cases and

– whether cases raising similar issues should be stayed pending determination of the above issues.

You can read the judgment here.    

We will keep you up to date with further developments.