Protecting autonomy in the Court of Protection
Capacity to make decisions
We helped empower Ben* to make his own decisions about living in his own home following his discharge from detention under the Mental Health Act 1983. Ben was allowed to remain in his home and did not have to go through what was likely to be a protracted Court of Protection matter.
Ben was living at home, which he had owned for over thirty years. However, there was a tragic accident at the house, leading to the death of a family member. He was understandably very attached to the property as it held important memories of his loved one, but was equally upset by the memories and sought to make changes to the property.
The local authority became concerned at the state of repair of the property and made an application to the Court of Protection for a declaration that Ben lacked capacity to make decisions in relation to his residence, care and finances.
Independent capacity assessment
We met Ben at a neutral location, due to a prohibition order, and didn’t agree with the local authority, so we found an independent expert with knowledge of Ben‘s mental health conditions and instructed him to prepare an independent capacity assessment.
During this time, Ben was constantly aware of the threat that the court could make a decision that meant he could no longer live in his own property, which was very upsetting and affected his engagement with the court proceedings.
The independent expert concluded that Ben had capacity to make decisions in relation to his residence, care, finances and other aspects relating to his property. The local authority accepted this decision, which ended the court case. By getting to know Ben and challenging the evidence of the local authority, we could protect his autonomy and allow him to retain control of decisions that affect his life.
*All names have been changedOn to the next case study