Court confirms removal of disabled woman’s deputy

Family Law|March 26th 2015

The Court of Protection has confirmed an earlier decision to remove a man from the role of deputy for his business partner’s financial affairs.

In Re CJ the woman in question, referred to as ‘CJ’, is now in her mid-60s. She suffered brain damage following a heart attack in 2002, when there was a delay in resuscitating her.

In the Court of Protection, Senior Judge Lush noted:

“She sued the ambulance service for negligence and in October 2009 she was awarded damages of £300,000.”

Before this award, however, a “medium to severe” stroke in 2007 left her with further brain damage and she is now partly paralyzed.

The year after CJ’s award, her business partner was appointed her personal deputy, with responsibility for her financial and property affairs. Referred to as ‘MP’, he formally ran a cattery and kennels with her.

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is responsible for the supervision of individuals appointed as deputies for the affairs of vulnerable people. Last year the OPG applied to the courts for a legal order stating that MP must submit full accounts of his deputyship dealingsfor the years 2011-2014. If he did not do so, the order should state that he would be removed from his role.

The OPG said it had become concerned about MP’s deputyship. In addition to the overdue accounts, he had also failed to pay £888 in fees due to the OPG. Instead he had sent them a bill for costs he claimed to have incurred in his role as deputy.

MP had also reportedly refused to let a doctor appointed by the Court of Protection see CJ when he visited her home.

Senior Judge Lush granted the order, which included an “unprecedented” clause specifying that MP must “comply with his statutory duties, fiduciary duties and the duties under the order appointing him as deputy.”

MP did not do so, and in November last year he was removed from his role as deputy. He responded by requesting a reconsideration of the ruling, asking for evidence that he had “acted against the client’s interests in any way.”

At the subsequent hearing , Senior Judge Lush described his impressions of MP, saying there was “something faintly endearing” about him.

“To some extent, he was contrite and acknowledged that he had lost his temper from time to time and had said, or written, or done things that he subsequently regretted.”

Despite his contrition, however, he continued to insist that the OPG had overreacted to the situation.

The Judge noted that MP had not touched CJ’s damages award. This remained in a court account where he felt it was safe, against the possibility that future medical breakthroughs might help to alleviate her condition.

The Judge was “absolutely certain” that MP had not misused CJ’s funds, but added “that’s not the point”.

MP had applied to be CJ’s deputy, signing a declaration in which he gave a number of undertakings, including cooperation with the OPG and the maintenance of financial records.

The Court could not ignore this, Senior Judge Lush declared.

“To turn a blind eye to MP’s wilful refusal to comply with his duties would erode and undermine the safeguarding work carried out by the OPG’s supervision and compliance teams, which cannot possibly be in the public interest.”

Failure to insist on compliance with the regulations would place the UK in breach of its international human rights obligations, he added.

The Court of Protection is a branch of the High Court which makes rulings on behalf of people unable to make their own decisions due to illness or disability.

Read the judgement here.

Author: Stowe Family Law

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