Public Observer Wiki

A one-stop pinboard of information, and links for anyone interested in the role of Public Observer in the Court of Protection

Here is a description of the role of Court of Protection Public Observer:

What is a Public Observer?

For the purposes of this project, a COP Public Observer is a member of the public (often, but not necessarily, someone with a professional interest in the work of the Court) who attends a court hearing in order  to observe how the court administers justice and to report back about what they observed.  This advances the fundamental principle of ‘open justice’ to which the Court of Protection is committed. 

We will help you to identify hearings that you might be able to attend and we’ll highlight several hearings each week which we think should be covered by Public Observers. Many hearings are held “in public” so you have a right to attend them – but since most are now conducted remotely  you will need to request access to the conference calls via which they are conducted.  Some are held in private which means that you have to request permission to attend.  In our experience, this is usually granted, but you can be excluded if the judge considers there is ‘good reason’ not to admit you. 

If you are interested in volunteering as a Public Observer we strongly recommend that you read this blog, which will answer many of your questions: Do contact us if you have additional questions or concerns.
We will publish (moderated) blogs from Public Observers and video-interview clips with Public Observers reporting on their findings.

People who have already volunteered to act as Public Observers include: 

  • Law students 
  • Solicitors (this can count towards CPD)
  • A Registered Intermediary who supports children in giving evidence in court
  • A clinical psychologist who works with people with learning disabilities
  • A speech and language therapist involved in capacity assessments
  • A palliative care nurse.
  • An MCA trainer
  • The policy officer for an end of life charity
  • The mother of a daughter living with a brain injury after a road traffic accident, who now lacks capacity to make most decisions for herself.

To observe a hearing, check out the evening before what’s available for the following day. “Featured Hearings” are on the front page of our website. Others are tweeted. Then email the court of your choice.

This blog by Celia Kitzinger sets out step-by-step instructions on how to observe hearings in the Court of Protection as a Public Observer.

Click here to read.

This blog by Gill Loomes-Quinn describes her experience of observing hearings in the Court of Protection as part of her PhD research.

Click here to read.

Here is a list of links from the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, setting out the legal framework for the Court of Protection Transparency Pilot.

Click here to check them out.

The Court of Protection Hub is a website maintained by Bath Publishing to provide updates on the work of the court, in conjunction with its User Guide for the court: “The Court of Protection Made Clear”

You can find it here.

This document by Tor Butler-Cole QC, drafted in 2016 at the inception of the Court of Protection Transparency Pilot, is an annotated explanation of the Transparency Pilot Order – the Form that Public Observers are required to sign when observing attended hearings in the court (N.B. The wording of the Order may have changed slightly in the years since this explanation was produced).

Click here to access it.

The Transparency Project explains and discusses family law, and the work of the family courts in England and Wales; and signposts to useful resources with the aim of helping people to understand the law, and the legal system better.

You can check them out here.

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