The Court of Little Protection

Yesterday, the BBC station Radio 4 ran a feature on the so-called Court of Protection, the body set up to manage the financial affairs of those who are incapable of doing it themselves, such as those with dementia, brain injuries or lifelong learning disabilities. They covered three cases, one of a man with Down’s Syndrome whose mother had to jump through numerous hoops to remain in control of his affairs after he became adult, one of a man who suffered brain injuries in a motorbike accident but who has since regained much of his mental function, and a woman with dementia whose friend struggled to get her niece out of her business after she brutally killed the lady’s cat and then proceeded to steal thousands of pounds from her account.

It appears that the COP is over-bureaucratic and slow to act in cases of financial abuse (i.e. theft from, or extortion against, vulnerable people such as the elderly or disabled), but is also a licence to print money for the lawyers who function as “deputies”. The programme featured an interview with Neil Barker, a written version of which appears here, who sustained head injuries in a motorbike accident and subsequently received a £1.7m compensation package. Barker discovered that his money was being under-invested and receiving only 0.5% interest; while working part-time as an IT consultant, he noticed that the bank he was working for offered a savings account which offered 4%, which means that his account is some £50,000 down on what it could have been. Given that his mental capacity is somewhat improved (as evidenced by his having worked as an IT engineer, bought and renovated a house and sold it at a profit), he has been trying to get control of his own money back.

To do that, he’d need a consultant neurologist’s report, and for that, his deputy would need to apply for it — but the deputy refused, claiming that a court would refuse as he was last assessed two years ago, and it was unlikely that he would have improved much in that time. (Note: the first 18 months to two years are critical in neurological injuries, whether to the brain or the spinal cord; those two years are the time in which improvements happen. The article doesn’t say when his injury happened, however.) While he remains under the “protection” of the court, Barker’s “deputy” is allowed to dip into the account whenever any work needs to be done, i.e. whenever Barker wants to use some of his own money. The solicitor refused to answer questions and told Barker, who wanted him interviewed, that his permission wasn’t sufficient authority as he was the deputy in the first place because of Barker’s lack of mental capacity.

So, why on earth would a solicitor sitting on more than a million pounds who can charge a hefty fee every time his client needs to use it want to continue to keep the client disempowered? Answers on a postcard to the BBC, as their investigation didn’t ask this question. (Anna Raccoon did, however.)

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  • Assalam-alaikam brother, I thought to visit your blog because I hadn’t been here for a while and did a double take when I realised that this post was about the office I used to work for (then called the Public Guardianship Office, the administrative arm of the Court of Protection).

    I was a caseworker and then a nominated officer of the Court, so I could sell people’s property or release their funds to use in their care. One of the patient’s families ongoing complaints was the length of time it took to release funds for their essential needs. At the same time, the propensity for people to try and rip-off their ill relatives was amazing.

    The 4% is from monies invested in the Court Funds Office (the Courts banking system), this is now an outdated way of invetsing - at one point the interest on this account was about 15%, when I worked there it had fallen to 6% which was still difficult to match on the high street. When it dropped to 4%, the Court of Protection realised it could be matched elsewhere and conceded that people needed to start shopping around for the best place to invest their damages/proceeds from their homes (mostly the elderly). The only benefit really is that it is a “safe” investment and mainly used for the elderly who often die before much of the money is spent.

    Being a bit naive when I joined the COP/PGO 10 years ago, the thing that really struck me was the amazing amounts of money that went on care homes and on lawyers (we called them ambulance-chasers) fees meaning oftentimes damages and proceeds from homes that were sold lasted a year or two instead of the lifetime of the person.

  • The Court of Protection is full of fraud and corruption simple. It is run by racketeering probate solicitors and an organisation of criminals manipulating the real use of the CoP. It is not there to protect families from greedy family members that’s there alibi, we hear it all the time from families/carers that have wrongfully been accused and abused. The money and properties is then run by the criminals of fraudsters which on paper looks like the CoP is a good useful Court protecting the vulnerable but in reality it is the opposite. We have evidence of the many wrongfully accused and the CoP is clearly full of fraud! Who are also asking where is there family members money? Like the above comment from the person who worked in the CoP states

    “the thing that really struck me was the amazing amounts of money that went on care homes and on lawyers (we called them ambulance-chasers) fees meaning often damages and proceeds from homes that were sold lasted a year or two instead of the lifetime of the person.” The patients had money before they went into the CoP and after a year they didn’t?!

    That’s right those family members wrongly accused to move them out of the way for the CoP and solicitors to do the fraud were not there to protect their family members. Very smart, organised crime!

  • JusticeGollis

    This court has been taken over and is being used by the professional probate solicitors to line their own pockets by using a loophole in the law which they have deliberately created. The legal profession is failing in its duty of care, in the preparation of our Last Will’s which leave us in a legal limbo if we get dementia during the final years of our life. The legal profession have further contrived by omission to ignore any mention of a near future owner of estate as trustee as our named Executor in past Mental Health Acts 1959, 1983 & the Capacity Act 2005. This is to place us in a legal limbo and perpetuate the Court of Protections jurisdiction over us. This public authority deliberately obstructs the Right for our own chosen Executor to be appointed as Right to represent us, in our best interest, in our old age. The probate legal profession having deliberately created this legal limbo for us is leaving us at the mercy the state and the victims of the lucrative business for the professional expertise of a national network of probate solicitors. The Court of Protection’s protection is in reality for the protection of its own kind, probate solicitors. Once a professional probate solicitor has your money as a deputy any objection made against them is defended by them taking very lucrative fees from your own money defending themselves, it’s a racket!
    To conceal even more serious matters they can even charge you 10’s of thousands of pounds by corruptly using Statutory Will jurisdiction Will forgeries by reason of fraud to conceal property fraud as they make themselves the ultimate legal owner of your estate when you die to obstruct the genuine Executor making a claim for compensation and damages against the ultimate liability of this public authority.
    The average is three & half years under this court for the elderly with dementia, this is ample opportunity for a mere upstart solicitor deputy with all the professional expertise for racketeering and plenty of time to intercede and carve up our estates for their own self serving gratification as though in their own staggering arrogance they are a lawful owner. The institutional corruption throughout the Office of the Public Guardian ignores corrupt Courts Visitors, The solicitors of Office of the Official Solicitor will ensure by interference in the privacy of your solicitor so that there is no such thing as fair and proper hearing in this joke of a court which is no more than just a public authority which has no regard to complying with our conventions rights as an independent and impartial court of Law. This court is the most amazing professional criminal racket of its own cronies which forced my own Mum to the edge of poverty in the final years of her life while she was being robbed by solicitors under this corrupt Dickensian court all for the self gratification of probate solicitors. As long as there are such lucrative professional fees to be made from the most vulnerable people, will the real truth ever come out when their own professions cronyism controls the Courts.

  • anajinn

    The Court of Protection facilitates fraudulent Powers of Attorney. I brought this to the attention of Sir Mark Potter, (President of Family Court) Martin John (Public Guardian), Ministry of Justice, Judge Denzil Lush (Master of the Court of Protection), The Auditor General, Baroness Scotland (the Solicitor General), The Home Secretary, the Chief of Police, the Prime Minister. I may as well have told Mickey Mouse. This appears to be organized crime and needs investigating.

  • Matthew

    Yes a uncle of mine had to go through hoops to get access to my auntie’s business when she had a stoke - they are not fit for purpose.

  • Matthew,

    Great post (albeit on a very sad topic)!

    Wow! Few things get me more upset than people taking advantage of vulnerable populations (i.e. those who are ill, incapacitated, elderly, etc.) I am saddened to read about the clearly-broken Court Of Protection system. It’s really quite outrageous!

    The good news is your post is shining a light on the problem.

    I checked out Anna’s blog and found the blog comments there to be fascinating… in a very sad way. One woman in particular (Christine, I think her name was) gave a very detailed account of the utter nonsense she has been through while acting to protect her aunt. Just terrible!

    I’m sorry your uncle had to go through stress after your aunt’s stroke. I’m sure he was stressed out enough without having to deal with all of that.

    Jeanne

  • Jeanne, can I point out that I’m not the same Matthew that posted that comment. If that was my story it would have been on the original post.

  • franceen

    I have decided to take my case to the court of humman rights, and further if necessary because i have had enough of this Court of Protection and OPG, my Mother is a pensioner,and has been forced under this court against her will, this Court is Racist, ageist and seriously corrupt,for some reason no one wants to help me, i’m a young woman in my early thirties and this court has destroyed me and my mothers life, their on the side of the corrupt social services and the abusers; they have TOTALLY violated my mothers rights, my mother has NO rights anymore, they lied that my mother lacks capacity, so they could, deny her ,her human rights, they used CORRUPT doctors to falsely diagnose my mother with Dementia; i know my mother doesn’t have dementia, i have tried to challenge them and fight for my mothers rights and freedom,but their SO powerful, and i’m just one person; i’m black and female ,so its even worse for me, because the discrimination is on a whole other level; their discriminating against my mother because she is an older black woman,this Curt HATES blacks, all the Judges are NAZIS, my mother worked hard all her life, and now this evil racist ,NAZI- LIKE organisation have made an order denyng my mother ALL her rights as a human, my mother is under some kind of House arrest, she is NOT free at all, they made an order forcing her to live with who they want, even though they know my mother doesn’t want to live with the person they placed her in the care of, that family member they placed my mother with is abusing my mother, both medically and financially , and i have done EVERYTHING to make this court be aware that family members are abusing my mother and want to kill her,they had SO much evidence of this abuse, yet they ignored it; they made an order in July last year TOTALLY denying my mother any rights, and TOTALLY taking away all my rights as her daughter, i can’t see my mther, unless the Social services arrange anjd supervise it,yet ALL other family members can see my mother when they want; yet i have done NOTHING , i am my mothers last born, i still need my mother, i cry every day and every night, this court have destroyed my family life,my mother is my life, they know we are VERY close, they have taken my mother away frm me, and they are having her drugged against her will, i don’t know what their doing to my mother, i don’t know how to help my mother, i have considered breaking the law to get my mother out of this prison, because i can’t take anymore of this, its destroyed me emtionally, me and my mother can’t see each other freely; this Nazi court is VERY corrupt and dangerous, its got TOO much power over the vulnerable, their killing older vulnerable people, and vulnerable blacks, this curt must be shut down NOW, as a Black person brn in the UK, i notice its impossible to challenge this EVIL court and expose what their actually doing, because other corrupt organisations, and corrupt Nazi MPs are protecting this Court.

  • Franceen we are sorry about your story. It is not just elderly blacks is any race of people who have MONEY! They are only interested in people with money they can manipulate and yes there is serious corruption and fraud. You are not alone and many people have similar stories people who are disabled, elderly, road accident people awarded compensation, or anyone they feel can be manipulated under their jurisdiction and maybe not even people who lack capacity it is just people with MONEY. If you are a road accident person, disabled, elderly without MONEY they are not interested in you. Stay strong, they will be exposed for what they are doing eventually. Join our organisation Families Against Court of Protection Theft- http://www.factuk.org.uk email us your case, who you have complained too and the corrupt solicitors doing this to you and how much money you believe they have STOLEN off your mum

  • Christine Hockett

    To Umm Salihah a reply and some extra thoughts I was appointed Receiver for my aged aunt in 2003, I now act as her Deputy following implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. This change of name, though not role has cost my aunt a further £522 in Court fees. I was therefore interested to read you response to the post as a former employee of the then Public Guardianship Office. You are amazed at the “propensity for people to try and rip off their ill relatives” and “the amounts of money that went on care homes and lawyers”. To the first I would say that there are laws which deal with people who lie and cheat and steal, and the annual accounts that have to be submitted should be used to detect these people so that they can be dealt with accordingly by the law, and being under the supervision of The Court of Protection clearly makes no difference to people who are minded to act in this way. It must be remembered that many, I would hope the majority, of people do not act like this and should be considered and treated as innocent until proved guilty by a criminal Court. To the second – Care homes are very expensive, my aunt is the “modern day Micawber” her outgoings are far more than her income (interest from the account at the Supreme Court, state pension and widow’s pension and attendance allowance) so that her actual capital at Court is being used each year to fund care in a care home. This capital at Court is made up of her savings and the sale of her home and contents. (Without her knowledge) I do not know about money going to lawyers as I feel that given sufficient information, I should be able to discharge my legal obligations without one and no lawyer or Court can help with the familial duties I have, as they do not know my family and more particularly my aunt.
    Which brings me to the role of the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), Court of Protection (CoP) and Court Funds Office (CFO). Your comment highlights the disdain in which family Deputies are held by these organisations which, if they truly had the best interests of the patients at heart would be offering advice on the best practice of discharge of these duties and direct Deputies to the different options or information to enable them to do the right thing, instead of merely telling them to get costly “legal advice”. The OPG is also not without faults. I have received a Court order stamped 31st April (sic) by the sealing room. Presumably every Court order sent out that day bore the same non-existent date. I then had to serve this pathetic document on organisations, most of whom don’t even know what the CoP is anyway, as I generally get asked if it is a “Power of Attorney”. There are three ladies currently under the “protection” of the Court with the same name and I have received a letter and bill meant for one of the other Deputies. More seriously, I also discovered that the proceeds of the sale of my aunt’s home had been placed in the account of one of these other ladies when the money was received by the CFO. My aunt’s capital is held in an account managed by the CFO which is currently paying 0.5% interest, when it was paying 6% there was still a shortfall of her income over expenditure, this gap is now considerably greater. I have considered splitting and moving her capital to one year bank bonds, however, most banks are now amalgamating and will only guarantee the first £50,000. I have therefore decided to leave her money in this account where it is 100% guaranteed. I very much doubt that in your words: “the Court of Protection realised that it (the interest rate) could be matched elsewhere and conceded that people needed to start shopping around for the best place to invest their damages/proceeds from their homes (mostly the elderly). The only benefit really is that it is a “safe” investment and mainly used for the elderly who often die before much of the money is spent.” But I have no explanation as to why the Court would permit Deputies access to all of the money when they act as though they are not to be trusted and pay 0.5% when any high street bank will pay more. I can only conclude that they want people to remove money from the CFO. With regard to your statement that “the elderly often die before much of the money is spent”. My aunt has been in care since 2003 and is now 88. I confidently expect to be contacting the Queen to ask for her telegram on reaching 100. The only issue in my family regarding HER money is that there is sufficient for HER needs. This is difficult to know as there is now a £400 fee for every application to court and year on year supervision fees. As I have a Type II supervision level that is currently £175 per year. My aunt also has to pay an annual indemnity bond (£375 this year) so that an insurance company will refund any money that I “make off” with. She is also taxed on the interest of the capital in Court which is the proceeds of her home and contents which were sold to FUND CARE. My aunt is safe, her money is safe and accounted for on an annual basis, the CoP is a luxury she can ill afford , as it provides little to nothing to her in return for the fees it charges. By not providing information or the reasons for Court decisions or giving relatives and patients an automatic right of audience in the Court when these decisions are taken , the result is mutal distrust, misunderstanding and a poor service to the patient. This cannot be what the Court of Protection , Office of the Public Guardian and Court Funds Office intend - so they should change this now and start living up to their names. “The Court of Protection” and “The Office of the Public Guardian”, making themselves and their decisions accessible and transparent by people who use their services by choice or who were forced to do so like my aunt.

  • Lee

    Apologises to Kyle and his family who will not understand they are part of large scale corruption. Our heart goes out to them what they have encountered and what they will continue to encounter whilst Kyle is under the CoP.

    http://www.tsplegal.com/newsevents/courtsettlementof175million_wil

    Kyle won £1.75 million and we are not contemplating he deserves this or his family. He sure does but how long did his solicitors take to get as much money as they could? Probably a few years knowing that they would then appoint themselves as deputies and control his finances and dip into this £1.75 million when they like for fees really as victims of CoP theft know fully well CoP does not keep good accounts where people’s money is going! Kyle has 2 parents that are very capable looking after his money. Why do they need a solicitor to act as a deputy? Why can’t Kyles parents look after him without him even being in the CoP?

    You have to question this and understand the complexity of this corruption. If his parents are able to care for him, feed him, why then can they not look after his money without everyone interfering?

    I thought the CoP was to look after finances of those who lacked capacity but didn’t have someone to help manage their affairs.

    This corruption is becoming way to common. Another example was Neil Barker who was involved in a motorbike accident and was awarded £1.7 million which his solicitors fought so hard for. Why? Because they then put him under the Court of Protection and appointed themselves as the deputy. Mr. Barker has since gained capacity but is having problems removing that same solicitor and for him to take control of his own money. They are not only ripping off the victims and their families but the insurance companies too!

    http://www.firstpersonalinjury.co.uk/blog/road-traffic-accidents/how-the

    What these victims of this corruption have to understand these solicitors disgustingly did not fight for them to be awarded these huge amounts but they did it for themselves and that is why they took so long on the case to get as much money as they possibly could get their dirty hands on.

    Disgusting, inhuman fraudsters. We wish Kyle and his family the best of luck and wish they one day will have the freedom not to be under such a manipulative system. ‘Best interests’ whose ‘best interests’ Denzil Lush? Please explain? You don’t think this family should be left in one peace to get on with their lives without having to explain where all their money is going when the appointed solicitors can dip into Kyles account whenever they want without doing so and without doing anything for Kyle!

  • Lee
  • Rick

    My step son Simon, who is a 27 years old adult with special needs (autistic spectrum disorder) was placed in a permanent supported living placement commissioned by the Local Authority in 2006. The concept was to cultivate his goals and encourage him to achieve independence more effectively. However due to his mother’s alienation, his wishes and feelings were not properly respected and the family life we had established since he was 9 years old was effectively destroyed.

    The Court of Protection was seemingly created to protect vulnerable adults from abuse and promote their best interests working under the Mental Capacity act. This legislation defines capacity as issue specific, appearing to imply whichever matter is brought to court is the one which is assessed. Hence my family were permitted to be unfairly targeted by the MCA and my son was assessed to only lack capacity regarding his relationship with my partner and I. However, the medical evidence clearly suggested he lacked capacity to manage all relationships and is particularly vulnerable to manipulation, potentially carrying out other people’s requirements against his own needs.

    The Local Authority had prevented my son’s family life stating I was interfering with his care plan causing him anxiety, when anxiety is part of his condition. They even fabricated a risk assessment to restrain him before encouraging and strongly supporting the mother’s application to be his deputy to completely prevent my contact. According to the Mental Capacity Act a deputy must not prevent any named person from having contact. Yet for well over two years the case was allowed to continue until the final hearing when the Official Solicitor advised her to withdraw her application. Alarmingly the Court had also allowed the local authority to declare themselves as a neutral party, yet their disputed allegations were accepted when they were not only unsubstantiated but in fact evidenced to be false. To further protect the local authority the court refused to examine their illicit restrictions or hold any findings of fact as to why the matter came before the court and I was condemned for challenging this unfairness. This resulted in the permanent exclusion of my partner and I from my son’s life simply on account of my sense of injustice.

    My Son’s wishes and feelings as portrayed to the independent doctor on numerous occasions were entirely ignored by the court. Certainly the Local Authority should have been obliged to fund a suitable welfare deputy for him or properly support his family life to maintain his happiness. In support of the now neutral Local Authority the court decided to rely on some comments my son had allegedly made to the director of his care facility. This completely overlooked the medical evidence which suggested he did not have capacity and certainly this hearsay evidence could not be relied upon. Indeed one would question the purpose of instructing an independent psychiatrist if the court’s intention was to ignore the expert’s report.

    In summary, I firmly believe the Court of Protection has exploited the purpose and principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Human Rights Act 1998, to solely protect the financial interests of the Local Authority. Unquestionably my son has been denied his family life and the right to make personal welfare decisions in the future, which is deplorable and inhuman. Evidently this court which further rejected any opportunity to appeal is prepared to exploit the happiness and well being of the most vulnerable people in our society in order to achieve its immoral agenda.

    I miss my son immensely and deeply despise this court for extinguishing the very enjoyable family life we once shared.

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