Upon the death of the Protected Party, the Deputy’s authority under the First General Order seizes with immediate effect. Once the matter is transferred to the Executors of the Estate, the Deputy can agree their costs directly without a need for assessment, if possible, which will generally save the Protected Party money overall, without the need for the assessment process. If this is not possible, it may be necessary to apply to the Court for the costs to be assessed.
The interim work and the costs of the Deputy bringing the matter to a conclusion following the death of the Protected Party have been questioned over the years, as there has been very little guidance on this issue. In many cases, there is reasonable and necessary work involved in preparing the case for the Executor to thereafter deal with the Estate, however, what is a reasonable sum for this work?
Following correspondence with the Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO), the following change has been made to the assessment procedure with immediate effect. The SCCO may now allow ‘reasonable costs’ (post death of the Protected Party) in order that the Deputy can finalise his/her involvement in the matter. The SCCO have indicated that such costs should not be expected to exceed £1,500.00 +VAT.
As a result, where it appears that the post-death profit costs exceed £1,500.00 +VAT, the Deputy will require the authority to assess that part of the Bill of Costs. Costs below this amount are likely to be deemed reasonable on assessment but are, of course, subject to the usual assessment process and will be allowed based on what was reasonable, necessary and proportionate in the circumstances.
If you have any queries relating to post-death costs in Court of Protection cases, please do not hesitate to contact Stephanie Kaye.
This was an application by a Local Authority in relation to a young boy; the Protected Party, who is now 13. He previously lived with his grandmother under a Special Guardianship Order, but became the subject of a full care Order in December 2015. The Protected Party had displayed a desperate history and a catalogue of very seriously uncontrolled behaviour, damaging to both himself and others. As a result, he had been placed in no less than six different residential settings. Each setting ultimately broke down, sometimes very rapidly, as the staff there were simply unable to manage his behaviour and keep him safe.
The Local Authority would have wished by June 2017 to place the Protected Party in an approved secure accommodation placement. Such placements are very scarce and they were unable to find one. So, they hoped to place him in a unit which was not an approved secure accommodation at X. Their plan was, however, that within X he should, if necessary, be subject to considerable restraint, including physical restraint, in order to keep him safe and prevent him from absconding, as he had done on occasions in the past.
Section 25 of the Children Act 1989 makes express and detailed provision for the making of what are known as Secure Accommodation Orders. Such Orders may be made and, indeed, frequently are made by Courts, including Courts composed of lay magistrates. It is not necessary to apply to the High Court for a Secure Accommodation Order, however, as no approved secure accommodation was available, the Local Authority required the authorisation of a Court for the inevitable Deprivation of Liberty of the Protected Party. Mr Justice Holman expressed his concern over the way in which Applications of this sort were handled, saying that “the device of resort to the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court is operating to by-pass the important safeguard under the regulations of approval by the Secretary of State of establishments used as secure accommodation. There is a grave risk that the safeguard of approval by the Secretary of State is being denied to some of the most damaged and vulnerable children. This is a situation which cannot go on, and I intend to draw it to the attention of the President of the Family Division.” The Judge Ordered that the child now be joined as a party to these proceedings and Cafcass must allocate a Guardian to act on his behalf. A further hearing was ordered to be fixed in one month. It was stated that the Guardian must file and serve an interim report shortly before that hearing. Further, in view of the gravity of the subject matter and the age of the child, the Judge Ordered that he must be enabled to attend the hearing if he expresses a wish to do so unless the Guardian thought it would be damaging to the health, wellbeing or emotional stability of the child to do so. In his view it was very important that in these situations, which in plain language involve a child being ‘locked up’, the child concerned should, if he wishes, have an opportunity to attend a court hearing. The exception to that is clearly if the child is so troubled that it would be damaging to his health, wellbeing or emotional stability to do so.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Georgia Clarke (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the team at COPCosts@clarionsolicitors.com.
Rule 157 of the Court of Protection Rules 2007 states that “where the proceedings concern P’s personal welfare, the general rule is that there will be no order as to costs of the proceedings or that part of the proceedings that concerns P’s personal welfare”. Please note however there are exceptions to this rule.
If the general rule is applied, each party involved in Court of Protection proceedings which concern the P’s personal welfare are liable for their own costs. On the other hand, Rule 159 states that in some circumstances, the Court may depart from the general rule. Before an Order can be made, the Court of Protection will take into account these variables:
- the conduct of the parties;
- whether the party has succeeded on part of their case, even if they have not been wholly successful; and
- the role of any public body involved in the proceedings.
In terms of the conduct of the parties, the Court of Protection will consider:
- conduct before and during the court proceedings;
- whether it was reasonable for a party to raise, pursue or contest a particular issue;
- the manner in which a party has made or responded to an application or a particular issue;
- whether a party who has succeeded in their application or their response to an application exaggerated any matter contained in the application or response.
It is important to note that even if one or more of the above variables are applicable to a case, the parties should not expect the Court to make an Order and therefore they should be able to bear their own costs.
Deputies can be appointed to make decisions in respect of P’s personal welfare however these are only applicable to extreme cases. Paragraph 8.38 of the Code of Practice states that a “Deputy for personal welfare decisions will only be required in the most difficult cases where important necessary actions cannot be carried out without the Court’s authority, or there is no other way of settling the matter in the best interests of the person who lacks the capacity to make particular welfare decisions”.
Before a Welfare Deputy is appointed, the Court will consider the evidence and make decisions in relation to the following:
- Deciding where P should reside;
- Deciding what contact, if any, P should have with any specified person;
- Making an Order prohibiting a named person from having contact with P;
- Giving or refusing consent to the carrying out or continuation of a treatment by a person providing healthcare for P;
- Giving a direction that a person responsible for P’s healthcare allows a different person to take over that responsibility;
- Deciding whether P has the capacity to marry and the capacity to have sexual relations.
Where a Welfare Deputy is appointed, they are entitled to recover their costs from P’s estate on the basis that there is provision to do so within the Order. Practice Direction B (Part 19) to the Court of Protection Rules 2007 states “where the Court appoints a professional Deputy for personal welfare, the Deputy may take an annual management fee not exceeding 2.5% of P’s net assets on the anniversary of the Court Order appointing the professional as Deputy for personal up to a maximum of £500”.
If you require any further advice or assistance in relation to your Court of Protection costs, please do not hesitate to contact the Clarion COP Costs team on COPCosts@clarionsolicitors.com or 0113 246 0622.