A Court of Protection public access pilot scheme has been extended.
It was originally scheduled to run from 29 January to 31 July this year but Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has this week extended it until 31 August 2017.
Before the scheme began, cases before the Court were usually held in private, and only the people directly involved could attend the hearings. Some serious medical cases that dealt with the continuation of life support were among the few exceptions to this practice.
However in January HMCTS launched the pilot scheme which allowed members of the public and the news media to attend Court of Protection hearings. Anonymity orders are put in place to protect the identity of those involved in these cases. If a judge wants to hold a hearing in private, they will have to issue orders which explicitly forbid public and media access.
As part of the same scheme, HMCTS also changed the way hearings are listed. Now, each case comes with a short description of what it is about. This will make it easier for reporters or the general public to make an informed choice when they consider attending.
The Court of Protection hears cases involving people who are not able to make decisions for themselves. This can be because of disability, illness or injury. Such people are said to ‘lack mental capacity’. The Court rules on their medical treatment, who should take care of their property and affairs, as well as their overall welfare. In each case, a judge must rule based on what they believe to be in the best interests of the person in question.
For more information on the extension of the pilot scheme, click here.