The value of observing a case management hearing in the Court of Protection

By Helen Moizer, 7th April 2022

The value of observing a case management hearing in the Court of Protection.

When I observed a Court of Protection hearing for the first time, I did not know what I was entering into or what to expect. Despite it being a video hearing link, I still felt apprehensive and as though I was about to intrude on a group of people and disturb their discussions. On reflection, this is precisely why the Open Justice Court of Protection Project was set up. 

My first attempt to see a hearing failed as the hearing was cancelled. On that occasion, I’d followed the Open Justice Court of Protection Project’s guidance and asked the court for a link, but in the morning of the hearing the clerk to email me to say the hearing was no longer going ahead. If a court clerk is willing to take the time to update an observer, I thought it would be worth trying again.

The second time around proved successful, and I was provided with a link to join (Case nos. 13775782 and 1377580T: unusually there were two protected parties at the centre of this hearing.) 

 I was hoping I could do the virtual equivalent of  sneak in and sit down at the back without being noticed, but Mrs Justice Arbuthnot spoke directly to me and asked me to confirm who I was. Mild panic did ensue. However, on letting all the parties know I was just observing as a member of the public, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot immediately welcomed me and asked one of the lawyers to send me the transparency order at the end of the hearing.  I provided my email address and the hearing continued on.

Despite this being a case management hearing, rather than a final decision-making hearing, it gave me first-hand experience of how a COP hearing is run, the representative’s role in drafting an order for the judge to approve and how the interests of the protected parties are upheld. 

It has also left me intrigued by what will happen to the two parties in question. Little was known about the family dynamics and capacity of one young woman for example. The representatives were trying to speak to her doctor and the care home of her younger sibling. These insights highlighted the vulnerability of COP parties.

My main motivation for observing a hearing was to gain experience in this area of law and how it works in practice. This was something I gained, and it has sparked my interest to observe more. Hopefully if more people know about how easy and receptive the court is, COP hearings will see many more public observers.

Helen Moizer is Assistant Legal Officer at the Free Representation Unit. She tweets @h_moizer

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: