Judge: HHJ Hilder
Citation:  EWCOP 15
In this case P was a child with cerebral palsy with the consequence that he it was unlikely he would have capacity to manage his property and affairs when he reaches 18. He received a large award of damages arising out of negligence at his birth and a professional deputy was appointed.
There was a breakdown of relations between P’s family and the deputy and so P’s mother applied for the discharge of the current deputy’s appointment and the appointment in its place of a barrister to act as professional deputy.
The court directed inquiries as to professional regulation and insurance. The Bar Council confirmed that the work of a deputy is not the provision of legal services so not directly regulated but that in the context of discharge of the functions of deputyship, regulatory powers extend to “behaviour which diminishes trust and confidence in you or the profession (CD5) or insufficient cooperation with the BSB (CD9)…”.
The latter satisfied the court that the behaviour of the proposed deputy, Ms Sood, would be the subject of some regulation in that one of the main risks is misappropriation and that would clearly be a breach of the quoted regulations. (Paragraph 24).
As to insurance, Ms Sood had obtained a quote (BMIF not covering these activities) but had not indicated whether she would charge this as an expense to P’s estate or treat it as an overhead (as other professional deputies do).
The deputy had identified a suitable panel deputy who was willing to act. The court, partly because of the insurance position and partly because of the panel deputy’s greater experience, decided that P’s best interest were served by the appointment of the panel deputy. (Paragraphs 28-30).
SJ Hilder’s decision confirms that barristers may in principle act as professional deputies (although it would appear that insurance would have to be treated as an overhead).