Court of Protection

Justice written question – answered on 14th January 2014.

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Photo of Steve Reed Steve Reed Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will bring forward proposals to provide safeguards against a person appointed as a deputy by the Court of Protection failing to use compensation awarded for the purposes for which it was intended; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats

The Court of Protection (CoP) has the power to make decisions and appoint deputies to make decisions about someone's property and financial affairs or their health care and personal welfare. It is standard practice for the Court to order a deputy appointed to make decisions about property and financial affairs to take out a security bond (insurance) as a safeguard against misuse of funds. Where the case involves a large award of compensation, it is also usual for the Court to impose restrictions on the powers given to the deputy.

Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has a responsibility to supervise deputies appointed by the Court of Protection. Supervision is proportionate and involves allocating cases to different ‘tiers' of supervision based on a risks-based approach. All deputies are required to lodge annual reports with the Office of the Public Guardian stating what decisions they have made on behalf of the person lacking capacity and provide details of how the monies under their control have been spent. The OPG carries out regular reporting and spot-checks and investigates further if anything of concern is identified. If there is evidence of abuse, it makes an application to the Court of Protection to suspend the deputy's powers, or reports to the police if it suspects that a crime has been committed.

The OPG is carrying out a comprehensive review of its supervision model. The implementation of a new operating model, together with new digital channels of communication from 2014, will assist the OPG to exercise appropriate oversight of deputies' decision-making function. A public consultation which included proposals for the supervision function closed on 26 November.

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