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Council stripped of power over woman’s affairs

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The Court of Protection has ruled that Essex County Council should no longer be in charge of a 52 year-old woman’s property and affairs.

In Re HS, the woman at the centre of the case suffered from the incurable degenerative illness Huntington’s disease. She had initially appointed her former partner to manage her affairs despite his marriage to another woman following their breakup.

In an assessment of the woman, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) found that she did “not have the capacity to manage her own finances” but could direct her former partner in the management of her affairs.

However, the OPG said that the man she appointed had “failed to comply with his duties as an attorney”. They alleged he had denied funds for the woman and her carers, and that he was unable to account for £40,000 of her money. Therefore, they applied to the Court of Protection for his power of attorney to be revoked and for Essex County Council to replace him as deputy.

The Court agreed with the OPG’s assessment, revoked the former partner’s power of attorney and appointed the Council to act as deputy instead.

However, the woman’s son objected to this decision. Identified as ‘CA’ in the judgment, the son was a university student studying forensic science. He requested that Senior Judge Lush reconsider his rulings.

CA put himself forward to be named deputy for his mother’s affairs instead of the Council. He said that when he had suggested this before, he was told that he could not do it because he was not yet 18 years old. In fact he was “only about three weeks from being eighteen” at the time, which he described as “a negligible difference”. By the time he applied for reconsideration, he was 19 so age was no longer a disqualifying issue.

Senior Judge Lush said that CA had made a “favourable impression” on members of the OPG and expressed confidence that they “would have no objection to [his] appointment” as his mother’s deputy.

He added that CA had completed the necessary paperwork and was therefore named deputy for his mother’s property and affairs.

To read the full judgment, click here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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