The Court of Protection make decisions on financial or welfare matters for people who lack mental capacity or in other words people who can’t make decisions at the time they need to be made. The majority of applications to the Court of Protection are issued and dealt with by the central court in London, which has long been the single administrative centre for England and Wales. The current system has over-burdened the Court of Protection which has in turn resulted in delays with the turnaround of work. With Court of Protection work on the rise, changes needed to be made to the current system.
The HM Courts and Tribunal Service (“HMCTS") are introducing a standardised process which is scheduled to take effect from Monday 5 October 2015. As part of this process, the HMCTS will be appointing designated Regional Hubs for Court of Protection work, with the workload being allocated out to regions efficiently. Their goal is to improve the administration process and turnaround times for Court of Protection work in the regions in order to create a more efficient process and reduce delays.
The Regional Hubs will be in:
Their responsibility will be to:
Allocate cases that are received from First Avenue House to the relevant local hearing centre within their region, and
To case manage and administer the case until the final hearing.
The HMCTS have advised that Court of Protection applications will continue to be issued at First House Avenue in London, however may then be transferred to the relevant Regional Hub for the hearing if appropriate.
It remains to be seen whether these changes will have the desired effect they were intended for and what disruption they may cause during the transition period. Hopefully these changes will reduce delays in the court and allow easier access to justice for those who lack capacity and their families.