Departure from the rules – Public Guardian ordered to pay costs

In the case of JBN, Re [2019] EWCOP62 (23 December 2019), the Public Guardian made an application to the Court requesting the revocation of a Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs, which was made by JN two years prior, appointing DN, his son. The witness statement made by the investigator detailed that there were concerns that DN had not acted in JN’s best interests during the process of selling JN’s property, in which he had transferred the majority of the proceeds to himself. There were further concerns that JN and DN’s finances had become mixed, through the operation of a joint bank account. In conclusion, the Public Guardian expressed that DN’s actions had jeopardised JN’s future care costs, and they requested that the Court suspend the Lasting Power of Attorney and appoint an Interim Deputy.

Shortly afterwards, DN challenged the application, stating that JN had held the required capacity at all times, and that he had not committed any wrongdoing.

A further hearing was listed in June 2019, in which the Judge dismissed the Public Guardian’s application, restored the Lasting Power of Attorney appointing DN to act, and discharged the interim Deputy.

Following the hearing, DN sought the recovery of his costs from the Public Guardian, which he estimated to be in the region of £82,000.00. Ms Galley, acting on behalf of DN, argued that the Public Guardian had acted unreasonably in the matter, and that as such, the usual costs position as detailed in Rule 19.2 of the Court of Protection Rules (2017) should be departed from.

The Judge considered a number of issues surrounding the conduct of the Public Guardian, and noted that the apparent overriding issue in the matter was the lack of clarity as to JN’s capacity at the time of the property sale. The Judge ruled that as a result of the Public Guardian not considering the capacity evidence, that proceedings were brought which went beyond what was necessary. Furthermore, the Judge confirmed that the application made by the Public Guardian to obtain an Interim Order to suspend the Lasting Power of Attorney should have been made on notice to DN, as he was fully cooperating in respect of the queries raised as to his conduct.

The outcome of this matter was that a Costs Order was made, providing that the Public Guardian was not entitled to be paid their own costs from JN’s estate, and that they should pay 50% of the costs incurred by DN, including the costs of the final hearing. All costs incurred in the matter were to be assessed at the Senior Courts Costs Office.

Ella Wilkinson is an Apprentice Paralegal in the Costs and Litigation Funding Department at Clarion Solicitors. You can contact her at, or on 0113 288 5693.

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