A Court of Protection case which was abandoned after six years left a senior judge “utterly baffled”.
The case concerned a woman with severe learning difficulties, called ‘ED’ in the judgement. She is in her 30s but can only communicate via sign language.
In 2007 her parents, ‘Mr and Mrs D’, decided that they wanted her to be looked after at home, rather than in a care facility some distance away. They applied to the Court of Protection, which makes rulings on behalf of people with learning and similar difficulties who lack the capacity to make their own decisions.
The local authority objected, arguing that the family’s home wasn’t suitable for the woman’s care. According to a report in the Independent, they presented evidence of fires in the building, arson threats and allegations of criminal activity by members of the family.
There were no less than four fires at the family’s home in 2009, one of which caused extensive damage, and in a separate incident a gang of men threatened to burn the house down.
The case continued, going before three separate judges and three sets of lawyers. Then in August the family decided that they no longer wanted the woman to come and live with them, but would prefer her to move to a care facility close by.
The case was set to come before Mr Justice Wood at the High Court this month. Just days before the case was due to start, however, the family suddenly backed down and decided that they would go along with the local authority’s wish for their relative to stay at her original care home after all.
Cost for all sides equalled £350,000. The judge declared
“This is an astonishing sum of money to spend on one case. ED, Mr. D and Mrs. D have all had their legal expenses met from public funds. Particularly when one considers the nature of the case for the parents, and that the ultimate resolution… is that the parents have, ultimately with their own “consent,” agreed to Orders which dismiss any hope of ED coming to live with them and a significant reduction in her contact to them.”
He also commented on the “great morass of paper” generated by the case, describing it as “inordinate”. The evidence included witness statement which ran to 740 pages.
Mr Justice Wood said he was “utterly baffled by the course this litigation has taken, and perplexed by this lack of clarity in their case.”