The Open Justice Court of Protection Project is independent of any public body or university. Gill and Celia are running it on a voluntary basis and without funding.
Please note: we are not qualified lawyers and are unable to give legal advice.
The Open Justice Court of Protection Project works to promote Open Justice in the Court of Protection – an English court, established in its current form under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, with the authority to determine whether adults have the mental capacity to make key decisions in their lives (such as where they live, whether they undergo serious medical treatment, whether they maintain contact with family members), and to make decisions in the best interests of those deemed to lack capacity. The decisions made by the court on behalf of some of the most vulnerable members of society can be life-changing, and the case law it produces impacts the rights of disabled people far beyond the walls of the court rooms. In 2016, the “Court of Protection Transparency Pilot” was launched with the aim of increasing access to the court for the public and the media (click here to find out more about the Transparency Pilot). The Pilot has since been adopted into court procedure, and provides an avenue for public scrutiny of the court’s work, and an opportunity for health, social care, and voluntary sector professionals whose work is shaped by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to gain insights into court practice.
We encourage public access to the court by raising awareness of the rights of Public Observers set out by the Transparency Pilot. We share court listings, with details of hearings that are open to the public; we provide information and practical support for people wishing to observe the Court of Protection in action; we report on hearings we’ve observed; we provide links to published judgments, and updates on developments in the court. We welcome opportunities to engage with others who would like to know more about our project, and/or who share our commitment to promoting the aims of Open Justice in the Court of Protection. Get in touch via our Contact Page.
Celia Kitzinger is a scholar-activist with a background in academic Psychology and a 40-year academic career behind her. Her most recent scholarly publications (mostly ‘open access’) can be downloaded here. Celia’s involvement in issues relating to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 derives from and continues to be inspired by her family experience, since her sister Polly’s devastating brain injury in 2009 (click here). She is co-founder, with her sister, Professor Jenny Kitzinger, of the Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre. She also co-founded, with her wife, Professor Sue Wilkinson, Advance Decisions Assistance, a charity that provides information and support for people wishing to ensure that their decisions not to receive particular treatments have legal force and/or to make their end of life wishes known in a format with a legal standing in best interests decision-making. The charity also offers speakers for conferences, provides bespoke training for health and social care professionals, and supports families and clinicians once a person has lost capacity and the validity, applicability and implementation of their advance decision is under consideration. For the last decade Celia has been working as a researcher and advocate in relation to serious medical treatment decisions made on behalf of people who cannot make those decisions for themselves. This has included providing informal support for family members through best interests decision-making meetings and Court of Protection hearings concerning withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments (including, in particular, feeding tubes). She has attended and written about many such hearings – including the first ever all-remote hearing in the Court of Protection in March 2020 (click here). She contributes to many professional working parties, including the British Medical Association core editorial group that produced the national guidance on clinically assisted nutrition and hydration, the Royal College of Physicians guidelines development group for national guidelines on prolonged disorders of consciousness and (currently) the Lancet Commission on the Value of Death. She tweets as @kitzingercelia
Gill Loomes-Quinn is a socio-legal scholar-activist with a background in community advocacy. She first encountered the Mental Capacity Act 2005 when it was introduced while she was working as a specialist autism advocate in northern England, and saw how the Act impacted the lives of those of her clients deemed to lack mental capacity to make key decisions for themselves. However, this was prior to the inception of the Transparency Pilot, and the practical workings of the Court of Protection remained hidden from her. During her PhD (“Mental Capacity, Disability, and “Voice”: A Socio-Legal Exploration), Gill was the first researcher to use the Transparency Pilot to access the Court of Protection as a Public Observer. She is passionate about the concepts of Open Justice and Legal Literacy as they relate to the Court of Protection – and their potential to contribute to a politics of justice for disabled people. Her recent relevant publications explore the impact on disability rights of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 framework for research participation (here and here), as well as reporting on her experiences in the Court of Protection for the Transparency Project. She was also lead applicant (with Dr Jed Meers – University of York Law School) on a successful grant application to the University of York Research Centre for Social Science and organised a symposium on the ethical and legal implications of involving people in research who lack the capacity to consent – talks and interviews from the symposium, and related resources are available on her MCAR website. Alongside her research, Gill is proud to be a convener of PARC – the Participatory Autism Research Collective. Gill tweets regularly – @GillLoomesQuinn, having established a community of autistic scholars under the hashtag #AutisticsInAcademia. Her website is http://www.voicespaces.co.uk