Judge: Senior Judge Lush
Citation:  EWCOP 52
Summary and Comment
In this case P’s parents applied to be appointed as P’s deputies for welfare and property and affairs. They also applied for the appointment of successive deputies pursuant to section 19(5) MCA.
The Senior Judge remarked at paragraph 7 that such appointments were very rare. In the circumstances, therefore, he ordered a report from the Public Guardian pursuant to section 49 MCA into the appointment of successive deputies both in the instant case and generally.
P was 26 at the date of the hearing and lived with her parents. She had suffered severe injuries at birth but there was no damages award. She was severely autistic.
The report highlighted the difficulties that those suffering from autism encountered in communicating with others and the need that they have for someone familiar who can interpret how they feel.
The Senior Judge also sought and considered representations from a representative from the Building Societies Association as to the practicalities of successive deputies in terms of their recognising the successor deputy.
On what appears to be a fine balance from the checklist the Senior Judge approved the successive appointments principally because it would give P’s parents peace of mind having arranged matters properly for the long term, that the successive deputies would be more likely to take part in P’s life and this would filter through to P.
Again the Senior Judge referred to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (‘UNCRPD’), which the United Kingdom ratified on 7 August 2009 which stipulates in article 12.4 that:
“States Parties shall ensure that all measures that relate to the exercise of legal capacity provide for appropriate and effective safeguards to prevent abuse in accordance with international human rights law. Such safeguards shall ensure that measures relating to the exercise of legal capacity respect the rights, will and preferences of the person, are free of conflict of interest and undue influence, are proportional and tailored to the person’s circumstances, apply for the shortest time possible and are subject to regular review by a competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body. The safeguards shall be proportional to the degree to which such measures affect the person’s rights and interests.”
He made the point that that would point towards limiting (in time) the terms of appointment of deputies and away from successive appointments. He held, however, that in this case P’s best interests were served by such appointments. He noted that in any event limited appointments would be unpopular and administratively inconvenient.