Foreign powers of attorney – an unfortunate judicial wrong turn

Re JMK [2018] EWCOP 5, HHJ Hilder, faced with two litigants in person, has taken an unfortunate wrong turn as regards the basis upon which ‘foreign’ (i.e. non English & Welsh) powers have effect in England and Wales.

Two litigants in persons (the daughter and son-in-law of the donor) sought recognition and enforcement of a Canadian “Continuing Power of Attorney for Property” as a “protective measure” pursuant to paragraph 19 of Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005.  It is not entirely clear from the judgment why they did so, although there is mention of a family legal battle, presumably in Canada.   It is likely that there must have been some property in England and Wales that the holders wanted to administer and it can perhaps be assumed that they were having difficulty doing so without a court order.

Although the judgment does not say where power was made, it notes that the power was headed “[m]ade in accordance with the Substitute Decisions Act 1992.”  This suggests that the power was made in Ontario where, although it appears that this was not brought to the judge’s attention, a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property does not need to be registered before it takes effect, either with a court or with an administrative body the equivalent of the Office of the Public Guardian in either England & Wales or Scotland.  There was no evidence of the donor’s capacity at the date the power was executed although there was evidence from the care home where she lived in Canada that she lacked capacity thereafter.

The two parties before SJ Hilder were unrepresented, and she noted that she did not have the benefit of legal submissions.  The only authority that she found on Schedule 3 was the decision of Hedley J in Re MN (Recognition & Enforcement of Foreign Protective Measures) [2010] EWHC 1926, concerning a protective measure in the form of an order made by a California court.

SJ Hilder, upholding (on reconsideration) the refusal of the District Judge to recognise and enforce the power of attorney as a protective measure, noted that:

17. […] reference to ‘protective measures’ in Schedule 3 is intended, and generally understood, to refer to arrangements that have been made or approved by a foreign court. It may not be spelled out explicitly but the language of paragraph 19(3) in particular confirms that intention and understanding: each of the circumstances in which the mandatory requirement can be disapplied clearly envisages court proceedings. I have not found any authority which casts doubt on that understanding. JMK’s Power of Attorney has been through no court process at all. It is not even subject to a system of registration. It therefore does not fall within the general understanding of the term ‘protective measure’ for the purposes of recognition by this Court pursuant to Schedule 3.

18. More widely, it seems to me that PH’s understanding of the Power of Attorney at the time when it was granted (as set out in paragraph 16(a) above [“at the time of issuance, the POA was not a protective measure other than [JMK] was not used to managing household finances… we offered to help but, in order to do this properly, we needed her authority which was deemed to be a Power of Attorney”] captures a more accurate understanding of the nature of the instrument executed by JMK. If validly executed, a Power of Attorney is better characterised as an exercise of autonomy (even if it provides for a time when the donor is no longer capable of autonomous decision-making) than as a “protective measure.”

SJ Hilder concluded by noting that it remained open to the applicants to apply to be appointed as property and affairs deputies in this jurisdiction.

Comment

It is very unfortunate that SJ Hilder did not have benefit of legal submissions on this important issue, because she did not have her attention drawn to the fact that she was being asked the wrong question by the applicants, and that she should have been analysing the position not by reference to whether or not the power of attorney was a protective measure for purposes of Part 4 of Schedule 3, but rather by reference to the provisions of Part 3.   As explained in more detail in a discussion paper I prepared some years ago here (paragraphs 31ff), the general rule is that powers of attorney which are valid according to the law of the habitual residence of the donor are directly effective in England & Wales.

It is irrelevant, therefore, whether or not ‘foreign’ powers are also capable of being protective measures for purposes of Part 4 of Schedule 3, which was the focus of SJ Hilder’s analysis.  The question was whether the Ontario power was valid according to the terms of Ontario law (assuming that JMK had been habitually resident there at the point of granting the power.

 I should perhaps also note, however, that whilst it is undoubtedly correct that a foreign power that has not been registered with an administrative body or a court cannot be considered a protective measure, the position is now more nuanced than it was at the time I drafted the note set out above in 2014.    In a very unusual step that we reported upon in the October 2017 Mental Capacity Report, the Explanatory Report to the 2000 Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults (which underpins Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005) was issued in a new and revised edition, available here.   In addition to the correction of a few typos, the new and revised edition includes in particular a modification to paragraph 146 made by the Rapporteur, Professor Paul Lagarde relating to the confirmation of powers of representation (powers of the attorney and the like).   The new paragraph reads thus:

The concept of the confirmation of powers must give every guarantee of  reliability and be seen in the light of legal systems which make provision for this confirmation and place it in the hands of a particular authority, judicial in Quebec, administrative elsewhere. The first version of this report, which was based on a reading of the Convention text, set forth that this confirmation is not a measure of protection within the meaning of the Convention. If this indeed were the case, there would be no need to mention it alongside the measures of protection in Article 38. However, some delegations have since asserted that this analysis is not one which, according to them, flows from the discussion, difficult as it was. […] According to this view, a confirmation could constitute a measure of protection within the meaning of Article 3 and it could only be given by the competent authority under the Convention. A consequence of this might be that, if the adult has, in accordance with Article 15, paragraph 2, submitted the conferred power to an applicable law other than that under which the authorities have jurisdiction under the Convention, the representative risks being deprived of the possibility of having his or her powers confirmed, for instance, by the competent authority of the State whose law is applicable to the power of representation.

In other words, the Explanatory Note makes clear that the intention underpinning the Convention – and hence Schedule 3 – is that registered power (for instance a Scottish power registered with the Office of the Public Guardian) may well be capable of an application for recognition and enforcement.   That could never have benefited an attorney under an Ontario power, but the position may well be different in relation to many other types of powers.

Importantly, however, it is equally – if not more – unfortunate that SJ Hilder did not have drawn to her attention the provisions of (at the time Part 24, but now Part 23) of the Court of Protection Rules, which provide in Rule 23.6 for a standalone application to be made in any case where there is doubt as to the basis upon which the attorney under a foreign power is operating.  This is what the applicants in this case should have been seeking and the court considering, and it is the course of action I would strongly advise that any attorney under a ‘foreign’ power takes in future in the case of recalcitrant institutions in England and Wales.  I would hope, further, that the opportunity arises swiftly for either SJ Hilder or another judge of equivalent or greater seniority to clarify the position with the benefit of submissions based upon the matters set out above.

Re X considered (and limited)

The fall out from Re X continues.   A hearing has been listed (in public) for 30-31 July before Charles J to consider the matters raised in MOD & Ors [2015] EWCOP 47, with a number of other issues of general application.

In the interim, Baker J has had cause to consider Re X and Rule 3A on the very first day of the latter’s life.  In HSE Ireland v PD [2015] EWCOP 48, Baker J was asked to consider whether the subject of an application for recognition and enforcement of a foreign protective measure providing for their deprivation of liberty in England and Wales had to be made a party to the English proceedings.   This case, the sequel to HSE Ireland v PA & Ors [2015] EWCOP 38, required him to consider both the effect of Re X and the scope of the powers available to the court under Rule 3A.   In relation to Re X Baker J noted that:

“14. […] the Court concluded that the President had no jurisdiction to determine the issues upon which the appellants were appealing and, accordingly, the Court of Appeal had no jurisdiction to entertain the appeals. It could then be argued that the observations of the judges of the Court were (at best) obiter dicta or (possibly) merely dicta. It would, however, be extremely unwise for any judge at first instance to ignore what was said by the Court of Appeal. On the contrary, I consider that I must treat the dicta as the strongest possible indication of how the Court of Appeal would rule on the question before it, in the event that the issue returns to that Court as part of a legitimate appellate process.”

Baker J held that:

31.  In Re X, the judges of the Court of Appeal were considering proceedings for orders authorising in the deprivation of liberty by the Court of Protection exercising its original jurisdiction under the MCA 2005. They were not asked to consider applications for the recognition and enforcement of foreign orders under Schedule 3. Their clear statements of principle, however, serve as a strong reminder of the importance to be attached to ensuring that P’s voice is heard on any application where deprivation of liberty is in issue.”

Hearing P’s voice was, though, at the heart of the process of recognition and enforcement.  Therefore, when carrying out the limited review of the process before the foreign court mandated by Articles 5 and 6 ECHR, the Court of Protection “must therefore bear in mind the observation of Black LJ at paragraph 86 that ‘it is generally considered indispensable in this country for the person’s whose liberty is at stake automatically to be a party to the proceedings in which the issue is to be decided.” To my mind, however, where the adult has been a party and represented in the proceedings before the foreign court, it is not ‘indispensable’ for that adult also to be a party before this court on an application for recognition and enforcement of the foreign order, given the limited scope of the enquiry required of this court when considering an application under Schedule 3.”

Baker J continued

“[e]ach case will turn on its own facts. In some cases, the court will conclude that the adult needs to be joined as a party immediately. In other cases, the court will adopt one or other of the alternative methods provided in Rule 3(A)(2). In a third category of case, the court will be satisfied on the information before it that the requirements of Schedule 3 are satisfied without taking any of the measures provided by Rule 3A(2)(a)-(d). In very urgent cases, the court may conclude that an interim order should be made without any representation by or on behalf of the adult, but direct that the question of representation should be reviewed at a later hearing. Such a course seems to me to be consistent with the analysis of Black LJ at paragraph 104 of Re X. In every case, however, when carrying out that analysis, the court must be alive to the danger identified by Black LJ, at paragraph 100 in Re X that the process may depend ‘entirely on the reliability and completeness of the information transmitted to the court by those charged with the task’ who may ‘be the very person/organisation for P to be deprived of his liberty.'”

Baker J anticipated that in the majority of applications for recognition and enforcement of this nature, joinder of the adult as a party will be considered necessary, but that in the majority of cases it will not.   He further noted that the flexibility provided for by Rule 3A was well-suited to Schedule 3 applications, and expressed the hope that a panel of Accredited Legal Representatives would be swiftly established because the appointment of an ALR would in many cases facilitate a quick but focussed analysis of the particular requirements of Schedule 3.   Pending such appointment, the court would need to consider in each case what other Rule 3A step should be taken.

Baker J emphasised that this decision was taken in the an area “where the principles of comity and co-operation between courts of different countries are of particular importance in the interests of the individual concerned. The court asked to recognise a foreign order should work with the grain of that order, rather than raise procedural hurdles which may delay or impeded the implementation of the order in a way that may cause harm to the interests of the individual. If the court to which the application for recognition is made has concerns as to whether the adult was properly heard before the court of origin, it should as a first step raise those concerns promptly with the court of origin, rather than simply refuse recognition.”   Further, “The purpose of Schedule 3 is to facilitate the recognition and enforcement of protective measures for the benefits of vulnerable adults. The court to whom such an application is made must ensure that the limited review required by Schedule 3 goes not further than the terms of the Schedule require and, in particular, does not trespass into the reconsideration of the merits of the order which are entirely a matter for the court of origin.

Comment

Baker J’s conclusion as to the status of the dicta in Re X is not surprising.  Nor, I suggest, is the conclusion that he reached as to how those dicta apply in the narrow (but important) field of recognition and enforcement.   It is clearly of the highest importance that the individual concerned is properly heard (or properly enabled to participate) before the court that is taking the decision to deprive them of their liberty.   It is not immediately obvious why it is that they should then need to be joined as a party to proceedings for recognition and enforcement of that order before the Court of Protection, so long as the COP is both enabled – and indeed required – to assure itself that the individual in question has been so heard.

Stress-testing Schedule 3: cross-border placements and the Court of Protection

In Re PA, PB and PC [2015] EWCOP 38, Baker J has conducted a detailed analysis of the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection to recognise and enforce foreign protective measures under Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005.    That Schedule represents the implementation in English law of obligations contained within the 2000 Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults (‘the Convention’) ((which the United Kingdom has ratified in respect of Scotland, but not England).

The background concerns three young Irish individuals with complex mental health needs, all of whom were considered by the Irish Health Services Executive and the Irish High Court to require treatment in England because suitable treatment was not available in the Republic of Ireland.    The Irish High Court made orders under its inherent jurisdiction in relation to each of the individuals providing for their detention, care and treatment at facilities run by St Andrew’s Healthcare.   Whilst each of the individuals were, in principle, detainable under the provisions of the MHA 1983, the Irish High Court considered in each case that they wished to retain jurisdiction over the individuals so as to be able to ensure that the key decisions in relation the care planning for ‘its’ citizens could be made in Ireland, rather than in England.

All three individuals were initially placed in England under arrangements made under Council Regulation 2201/2003 (‘Brussels IIR’), which (inter alia) provides a mechanism for cross-border placements in relation to children (as to which see our comment on the case of HSE Ireland v SF [2012] EWHC 1640 (Fam)).    When they turned 18, however, this mechanism ceased to be effective, and the HSE therefore sought recognition and enforcement of further Irish High Court orders under the provisions of Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005.     Such orders have been sought and made previously, including in the reported case of Re M [2011] EWHC 3590 (COP), but never on a contested basis.    Indeed, in PC’s case, the Court of Protection had already recognised and declared enforceable the initial relevant Irish order in December 2012, and recognised and declared enforceable an order providing for his transfer from one facility run by St Andrew’s to another in early 2015.

Because the cases of PA and PB raised very similar issues (and it was recognised that the same issues of principle were engaged in PC’s case), Baker J listed all three cases to be considered at the same time.   The Official Solicitor acted as Advocate to the Court in all three cases and PA and PB were represented (directly) by solicitors and Counsel (PC was neither represented nor present).   The ‘stress-testing’ that Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005 underwent in consequence was considerable.

In a detailed judgment, Baker J made a number of key findings/observations in relation to Schedule 3, set out in the paragraphs that follow (nb, these re-order slightly the paragraphs of the judgment so as to move from the general to the specific).

Schedule 3 implements, as a matter of domestic law, obligations in respect of the recognition, enforcement and implementation of “protective measures” imposed by a foreign Court regardless of whether that Court is located in a Convention country (paragraph 39).

In consequence, it is not permissible to apply one rule for Convention states and another for non-Convention states.  In other words, the Courts of England and Wales should note automatically adopt a more cautious approach when asked to recognise and enforce an order of a non-Convention state. Each case will turn on its own facts, to which the Court of Protection must apply the provisions of the Schedule, in particular the provisions as to recognition in paragraph 19 including the grounds on which recognition may be refused. Plainly the Courts of England and Wales will have proper regard to the general principles of comity in all cases, although a greater degree of caution may be required when considering orders made by certain countries (paragraph 39).

There is an important difference between the persons who fall within the general jurisdiction of the Court of Protection under the MCA and those in respect of whom protective measures taken by a foreign Court may be recognised and enforced by the Court.   The Court of Protection’s general jurisdiction exists in respect of persons who lack capacity within the meaning of s.2(1) MCA 2005; the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection under Schedule 3 arises in relation to ‘adults’ – defined for those purposes in paragraph 4(1) as a person over 16 who, as a result of an impairment or insufficiency of his personal faculties, cannot protect his interests (and who is not subject to either the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention or Brussels IIR).   The scheme of the Convention, reflected in the Schedule, is to focus on the factual description of the adult rather than any legal test as to capacity.   In each case, the Court must look at the order and judgment of the foreign Court – and if it thinks it necessary to do so, and insofar as it is permissible to do so under paragraph 24, the evidence before the foreign Court – to establish whether the foreign Court has made a finding which is binding or, if not, whether the individual comes within the meaning of “adult” under paragraph 4(1) of Schedule 3 (paragraphs 43-4).

The scheme of the Convention which underpins Schedule 3 is to facilitate the recognition and enforcement of protective measures taken by foreign Courts save in the circumstances set out in paragraphs 19(3) and (4). The measure “is to be recognised” if taken on the grounds that the individual was habitually resident in the country where the order containing the measure was made. The grounds on which a measure may be challenged may be procedural (paragraph 19(3) or substantive (paragraph 19 (4)). By reason of paragraph 21, however, provides that for the purposes of paragraphs 19 and 20 any finding of fact relied on when the measure was taken is conclusive, there is no power to challenge the finding made in the foreign Court that the individual is habitually resident in that country.  Accordingly, a finding of a foreign Court that the individual concerned was habitually resident in that country cannot be challenged in any process to recognise or enforce a measure in this country, although the process by which the measure was ordered may be challenged (for example, if the individual was not given an opportunity to be heard) and the measure itself may be challenged (for example, if inconsistent with a mandatory provision of law of this country) (paragraph 52).

Paragraph 19(3) of Schedule 3 gives the Court a discretionary power to refuse to recognise a protective measure if certain procedural safeguards are not met. It is plain from the way in which Schedule 3 paragraph 19(3) is drafted that the Court only has a discretion to decline to recognise a foreign order if it thinks that the case in which the measure was taken was not urgent and the adult was not given the opportunity to be heard and that omission amounted to a breach of natural justice (‘thinks’ for these purposes meaning ‘concludes on the balance of probabilities) (paragraph 55).

Paragraph 19(4) of Schedule 3 gives the Court a further discretionary power to decline to recognise a measure in a foreign order in certain circumstances spelt out in the sub-paragraph. In contrast to sub-paragraph (3), these grounds upon which an application for recognition may be refused are separate rather than cumulative. Thus, the Court may refuse recognition if it thinks that (a) recognition would be manifestly contrary to public policy; or (b) the measure would be inconsistent with a mandatory provision of the law of England and Wales; or (c) the measure is inconsistent with one subsequently taken or recognised, in England and Wales in relation to the adult.   As Mostyn J had identified in Re M 19(4) (a) and (b) appear to be two sides of the same coin (paragraph 62).

By including Schedule 3 in the MCA, Parliament authorised a system of recognition and enforcement of foreign orders notwithstanding the fact that the approach of the foreign courts and laws to these issues may be different to that of the domestic court. These differences may extend not only to the way in which the individual is treated but also to questions of jurisprudence and capacity. Thus the fact that there are provisions within the Act that appear to conflict with the laws and procedures of the foreign state should not by itself lead to a refusal to recognise or enforce the foreign order. Given that Parliament has included s. 63 and Schedule 3 within the MCA, clearly intending to facilitate recognition and enforcement in such circumstances, it cannot be the case that those other provisions within the Act that seemingly conflict with the laws and procedures of the foreign state are mandatory provisions of the laws of England and Wales so as to justify the English Court refusing to recognise the foreign order on grounds of such inconsistency. In such circumstances, it is only where the Court concludes that recognition of the foreign measure would be manifestly contrary to public policy that the discretionary ground to refuse recognition will arise. Furthermore, in conducting the public policy review, the Court must always bear in mind, in the words of Munby LJ in Re L (A Child) (Recognition of Foreign Order) [2012] EWCA Civ 1157 that “the test is stringent, the bar is … set high.” (paragraph 91).

There is likely to be a wide variety in the decisions made under foreign laws that are put forward for recognition under Schedule 3.  Inevitably there may be concerns about some of the foreign jurisdictions from which orders might come. But as the Ministry of Justice observed in a letter sent to the Court, taking account of such concerns is surely the purpose of the public policy review. Although no wide ranging review as to the merits of the foreign measure is either necessary or appropriate, a limited review will always be required as indicated by the European Court in Pellegrini v Italy (2002) EHRR 2. That will be sufficient to identify any cases where the content and form of the foreign measure, and the processes by which it was taken, are objectionable. The circumstances in which Schedule 3 is likely to be invoked, and the number of countries whose orders are presented for recognition, are likely to be limited. If applications were to be made from countries such as North Korea (which are unlikely, at least in the foreseeable future), the public policy review would surely lead swiftly to identifying grounds on which recognition would be refused. It is much more likely that the orders presented for recognition will be those of foreign countries whose legal systems, laws and procedures are closely aligned to our own. Concerns of this nature can be addressed by admitting evidence of the process by which the foreign protective measures were made and general evidence relating to the legal system of the state that made the order (paragraph 92).

The Court of Protection (being bound to act compatibly with the ECHR as a mandatory provision of the law of England and Wales by its incorporation into the HRA) should on any application for recognition and enforcement conduct a limited review to satisfy itself that foreign orders presented for recognition and enforcement comply with the ECHR.  In so doing, the Court should strive to achieve a combined and harmonious application of the provisions of the ECHR and the Convention (paragraph 96).

By including Schedule 3 in the MCA, Parliament must be assumed to have permitted orders to be recognised that did not comply with other laws and procedures under the statute. As the definition of “adult” in Schedule 3 paragraph 4 plainly extends to persons who may not be incapacitated within the meaning of s.2 MCA 2005, it follows that the Court will be obliged to recognise and enforce orders of a foreign court in terms that could not be included in an order made under the domestic jurisdiction under the MCA. This is subject, however, to its discretion to refuse recognition and enforcement where that would be manifestly contrary to public policy.  Baker J agreed with and endorsed Hedley J’s conclusion in Re MN that a decision to recognise under paragraph 19(1) or to enforce under paragraph 22(2) is not a decision governed by the best interests of the individual so that those paragraphs are not disapplied by paragraph 19(4)(b) and section 1(5) of the Act. Thus it follows that the Court will be obliged to recognise and enforce a measure in a foreign court order even where applying a best interests test it would not be included in an order made under the domestic jurisdiction under the MCA. Again, however, this is subject, however, to its discretion to refuse recognition and enforcement where that would be manifestly contrary to public policy (paragraph 98).

It would not be open to the Court of Protection to refuse recognition and enforcement of a foreign order simply because the individual may have the relevant decision-making capacity and objects to the order being recognised and enforced.  Such an approach would undermine the whole purpose of Schedule 3 (paragraph 101).

Specifically in the context of a foreign order compulsorily placing an individual in a psychiatric hospital in England and Wales for treatment:

  1. The limited review required should encompass the Court being satisfied that (1) the Winterwerp criteria are met and (2) that the individual’s right to challenge the detention under Article 5(4) is effective (i.e. that they have a right to take proceedings to challenge the detention and the right to regular reviews thereafter) (paragraph 96);
  2. (Agreeing with Mostyn J in Re M), an order recognising and enforcing a foreign measure under Schedule 3 is not a welfare order as defined in section 16A(4)(b). The rules as to ineligibility in section 16A therefore do not apply. This means that the Court will be obliged to recognise and enforce orders of a foreign court depriving an individual of his liberty in circumstances in which it would not able to do so under the domestic jurisdiction under the MCA on the grounds that the individual is being treated or is treatable under the MHA as defined in Schedule 1A of the MCA. Once again, however, this is subject, however, to its discretion to refuse recognition and enforcement where that would be manifestly contrary to public policy (paragraph 98);
  3. The “conditions of implementation” provided for in paragraph 12 of Schedule 3 (which are governed by English law), are that the requirements of the ECHR are met, in particular the Winterwerp criteria and reviews of sufficient regularity to satisfy Article 5(4) (paragraph 102);
  4. Most such orders presented for recognition are likely to be of short duration, and/or in respect of persons whose capacity may fluctuate, and/or who are in receipt of a progressive form of treatment. As a result, in such cases there is likely to be repeated requests to scrutinise a succession of orders. Recognition and enforcement is likely to require close co-operation, not only between the medical and social care authorities of the two countries, but also between the Courts and legal systems. The Convention provides a mechanism using the Central Authorities but, pending ratification of the Convention, there may well be the need for direct communication between judges of the two jurisdictions (paragraph 93).

On the facts of the cases before him, Baker J considered that (1) each of the individuals: was an “adult” within the meaning of Schedule 3; (2) that each was habitually resident in the Republic of Ireland; (3) in each case that the individual was given a proper opportunity to be heard for the purposes of paragraph 19(3)(b); (4)  that in each case the individual satisfies the criteria for detention under Article 5(1)(e), namely the Winterwerp criteria; (4) that the orders of the Irish Court demonstrate that each will be afforded a regular right of review of his or her detention so as to comply with the ongoing requirements of Article 5(4); (5) that as a result recognising and enforcing the orders will not contravene the ECHR; (6) that the measures in each case are not inconsistent with any other mandatory provision of the law of England and Wales; and (7) that the measures cannot be said to be manifestly contrary to public policy.  Baker J therefore made orders providing that protective measures in the Irish orders were to be recognised in England and Wales and enforced in this jurisdiction.

Baker J also used the opportunity:

  1. To express the hope that the Court of Protection Rules will in due course be amended to incorporate comprehensive rules to support Schedule 3 as soon as possible, including rules as to allocation of applications under the Schedule.
  2. To provide that, pending the introduction of such rules, any application under Schedule 3 at this stage should be listed for a full High Court Judge in the first instance, and thereafter, all further hearings in connection with that application, and any further applications under the Schedule in respect of the same individual, should be listed before the same judge (if available) unless expressly released by him or her to another judge.
  3. To note that one issue that requires clarification by the ad hoc Rules Committee is whether a litigation friend should be appointed in cases such as those before him.   Baker J expressed the preliminary view that a litigation friend should be appointed to act for individuals who are the subject of applications for recognition and enforcement under Schedule 3 (unless, of course, that individual has capacity to conduct proceedings applying the provisions of the MCA).

Comment

Although these cases are unusual, the analysis by Baker J of Schedule 3 has ramifications going far beyond the context of compulsory placements for psychiatric treatment.   Of particular importance for practitioners are the following points.

First, the confirmation that – as in cases involving children under Brussels and Hague instruments – when we come to consider cross-border cases involving recognition and enforcement of measures taken in relation to adults with impairments, the English courts are operating in a very different sphere to purely domestic cases.    In the context of recognition and enforcement, the Court of Protection:

  1. Will not be applying the test of capacity contained in s.2(1) MCA 2005 (save in considering whether the adult has litigation capacity); and
  2.  Will not be applying the best interests test contained in s.1(5) and s.4 MCA 2005 (save in relation to implementation of the measures). In other words, the Court of Protection, and those appearing before it, has mentally to undertake a very significant gear shift in such cases.   Such a gear shift is one that many family practitioners and judges still find difficult in relation to cross-border cases involving children; it will perhaps be even more difficult in relation to adults where we are still taking baby steps in the identification of common themes and common practices across borders (and where we have yet in England and Wales to ratify the Convention…).

Second, the confirmation that the ability of the Court of Protection to refuse to recognise and declare enforceable foreign protective measures is very limited.

Third, the confirmation that, for purposes of applications for recognition and enforcement, the Court of Protection is effectively bound by the decisions of the foreign court as to the habitual residence of the individual.

Finally, the confirmation that, by passing Schedule 3 in the form that it did, Parliament opened the door to applications for recognition and enforcement to be made from any country in the world, with no ‘filter’ specific to non-Convention countries (save for the limited filter in relation to cross-border placements between Convention countries in paragraphs 19(4) and 26 which will only become relevant when the Convention in ratified in respect of England and Wales).

Cross-border matters are now part of the daily reality of very many practitioners (not least because, for these purposes, Scotland is a foreign country…).    Cases with a cross-border element will, we predict, come before the Court of Protection with ever more frequency.   And, in due course, I anticipate that much the same will be said in relation to the Convention and to such cases as has been said by Sir James Munby P in relation to the earlier Hague Conventions applicable to children and their European counterparts:

They have exposed us, often if only in translation, to what our judicial colleagues in other jurisdictions are doing in a wide range of family cases. They have taught us the sins of insularity. They have taught us that there are other equally effective ways of doing things which once upon a time we assumed could only be done as we were accustomed to doing them. They have taught us that, beneath all the apparent differences in language and legal system, family judges around the world are daily engaged on very much the same task, using very much the same tools and applying the same insights and approaches as those we are familiar with. Most important of all they have taught that we can, as we must, both respect and trust our judicial colleagues abroad.Re E (A Child) [2014] EWHC 6 (Fam)

All this, of course, suggests that everyone should:

  1. Rush out and purchase The International Protection of Adults, the only work which seeks to map out both the Convention and the frameworks for decision-making in relation to those with impairments in core jurisdictions around the world; and
  2. Identify to my co-editors and I any jurisdictions which should be included and volunteer to produce the necessary information for a chapter to be included in the next edition.

Good practice in habitual residence cases

Sir James Munby P, sitting in the Court of Appeal, in Re F (A Child) [2014] EWCA Civ 789, has set out some basic propositions that apply in relation to the determination of habitual residence in cases involving children.   Whilst they were stated in the context of the application of Council Regulation 2201/2203 (known as Brussels II revised (BIIR)), they are of wider application and it suggested that (with one exception highlighted below) the core procedural aspects apply equally to the determination of habitual residence by the Court of Protection:

11.

[…]

i)                Where BIIR applies, the courts of England and Wales do not have jurisdiction merely because the child is present within England and Wales. The basic principle, set out in Article 8(1), is that jurisdiction under BIIR is dependent upon habitual residence. It is well established by both European and domestic case-law that BIIR applies to care proceedings. It follows that the courts of England and Wales do not have jurisdiction to make a care order merely because the child is present within England and Wales. The starting point in every such case where there is a foreign dimension is, therefore, an inquiry as to where the child is habitually resident.

ii)              […]

iii)             Jurisdiction under Article 8(1) depends upon where the child is habitually resident ‘at the time the court is seised.’ [note, in cases under Schedule 3 to the MCA 2005, jurisdiction under the MCA 2005 depends upon where the individual is habitually resident at the point when the court determines the question of habitual residence: Re PO; JO v GO [2013] EWHC 3932 (COP) at paragraph 21]

 iv)             Since the point goes to jurisdiction it is imperative that the issue is addressed at the outset. In every care case with a foreign dimension jurisdiction must be considered at the earliest opportunity, that is, when the proceedings are issued and at the Case Management Hearing: see Nottingham City Council v LM and others [2014] EWCA Civ 152, paras 47, 58.

v)         Good practice requires that in every care case with a foreign dimension the court sets out explicitly, both in its judgment and in its order, the basis upon which, in accordance with the relevant provisions of BIIR, it has either accepted or rejected jurisdiction. This is necessary to demonstrate that the court has actually addressed the issue and to identify, so there is no room for argument, the precise basis upon which the court has proceeded: see Re E, paras 35, 36.

vi)        Judges must be astute to raise the issue of jurisdiction even if it has been overlooked by the parties: Re E, para 36.

There is a further point to which it is convenient to draw attention. If it is, as it is, imperative that the issue of jurisdiction is addressed at the outset of the proceedings, it is also imperative that it is dealt with in a procedurally appropriate manner:

i)       The form of the order is important. While it is now possible to make an interim declaration, a declaration made on a ‘without notice’ application is valueless, potentially misleading and should accordingly never be granted: see St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust v S, R v Collins and Others ex p S [1999] Fam 26. If it is necessary to address the issue before there has been time for proper investigation and determination, the order should contain a recital along the lines of ‘Upon it provisionally appearing that the child is habitually resident …’ Once the matter has been finally determined the order can contain either a declaration (‘It is declared that …’) or a recital (‘Upon the court being satisfied that …’) as to the child’s habitual residence.

ii)      The court cannot come to any final determination as to habitual residence until a proper opportunity has been given to all relevant parties to adduce evidence and make submissions. If they choose not to avail themselves of the opportunity then that, of course, is a matter for them, though it is important to bear in mind that a declaration cannot be made by default, concession or agreement, but only if the court is satisfied by evidence: see Wallersteiner v Moir [1974] 1 WLR 991.

[A version of this note appeared in the July 2014 Thirty Nine Essex Street Mental Capacity Law Newsletter]