Court of Protection Opens its Doors

16/03/2016

A new pilot scheme has begun which allows the public and media to gain access to Court of Protection hearings across England and Wales for the first time.

The Pilot Practice Direction applies to new proceedings issued from the 29th January 2016 onwards. Although hearings scheduled already under the old rules will not be changed, some urgent open hearings will feed through to the courts from February 2016.

The Court of Protection makes decisions about the personal welfare, property and affairs of a person who lacks the capacity themselves. Under the new direction, hearings will be held in public, but there will be reporting restrictions to protect identities.

Court of Protection judgments have been routinely published since 2010 and serious medical cases are held in public, with the identities of those concerned kept anonymous. Committal hearings where a custodial sentence is imposed are also held in public.

In addition, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is amending the way it displays court lists so that the media and public can decide if they want to attend a hearing by providing a short summary of a case details. These lists will be published on a weekly basis in court buildings and online at www.courtserve.net.

The pilot is anticipated to run in all regions for at least six months to allow for the changes to be fully tested, with the possibility of it being extended. More information can be found here.

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