Public access to Court of Protection

The Court of Protection has opened their doors to the public and media for the first time.

The Court of Protection makes decisions about the property and finances, and also the health and welfare, of people who lack the capacity to make those decisions themselves. It also deals with matters such as applications to make statutory gifts or Wills and appointing Deputies to make ongoing decisions for those who lack capacity.

Under a new 6 month pilot scheme which began running from 29 January 2016, the default position will now be that Hearings in the Court of Protection are held in public, albeit there will be reporting restrictions in place to protect identities. This allows a balance to be struck between transparency and safeguarding the privacy of those who lack capacity to make decisions for themselves. Court of Protection Judgements have routinely been published since 2010 and serious medical cases such as the decision to withdraw life sustaining treatment are held in public. However, this pilot scheme is a significant move towards greater transparency and move on from the decision of the Family Court six years ago to allow the public into Hearings.
The idea behind the change in approach is that allowing public and media access means they will be better informed about the work and approach of the Court and in turn greater scrutiny will improve the Court’s performance and those who work within it.

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