LB Hillingdon v PS and NS



Citation: Unreported (2015) MHLO 3 (COP)

Summary

The dispute in this case concerned whether it was in PS’s best interests to have no contact with a friend, M.  The local authority had become involved through its safeguarding procedures, and had attempted to resolve the dispute without recourse to the court.  The local authority had concluded that it was in PS’s interests not to have any contact with M, a view that was recommended by PS’s doctor.  M did not agree with that view, and the local authority issued proceedings so that the question of contact to be resolved. PS’s son and PS’s attorneys under an Enduring Power of Attorney opposed the grant of permission to the local authority, arguing that:

  • the local authority had no role in PS’s life, and since M had not issued an application, it had no standing to bring proceedings;
  • the application was an abuse of process, since the local authority was attempting to use the Court of Protection to insure its own best interests decision;
  • that there was no benefit to P of the application, and
  • that it was a disproportionate use of P’s funds.

District Judge Marin rejected these arguments and granted permission to the local authority to bring proceedings, holding that it had a sufficient connection with P for the purposes of s.50(3)(a) MCA 2005, and that there was obviously a dispute which required resolution. It was to P’s benefit for that dispute to be resolved, but that should be done in a cost-effective way, through the filing of witness statements, no fact-finding hearing, and the instruction of a Court Visitor to report on P’s wishes and feelings, followed by a final hearing.

Comment

This decision is of interest in view of the very small number of judgments addressing the question of permission (the only other one of which we are aware being NK v VW).  It is perhaps unsurprising that the court would grant permission where there was an unresolved dispute as to whether P could have contact with a long-standing friend.  One can sympathise with the concerns of P’s son and attorneys as to the likely costs of proceedings, particularly where the only contact in fact sought by M was a weekly social visit – but, as DJ Marin observed, there was an obvious way for those costs to be avoided – through further discussion and negotiation.

CategoryPractice and procedure - Other, Practice and procedure Date

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