Judge: Hedley J.
Citation:  EWHC 1592 (Fam)
Summary: Guidance in respect of applications for the appointment of deputies was provided in this judgment by Hedley J. The judge noted that s.16(4) of the MCA might at first glance suggest that the appointment of deputies was a rarity, since the provision states that a decision of the court is to be preferred. But, the judge found that this would be inconsistent with the aim of the MCA and said that, insofar as applications by family members are concerned, the courts should be sympathetic to their requests provided the family members are not embroiled in disputes with one another and appear able to carry out the functions of a deputy appropriately.
Hedley J stated that ‘it must be appreciated that Section 16(4) has to be read in the context of the fact that, ordinarily, the court will appoint deputies where it feels confident that it can. It is perhaps important to take one step further back even than that, and for the court to remind itself that in a society structured as is ours, it is not the State, whether through the agency of an authority or the court, which is primarily responsible for individuals who are subjects or citizens of the State. It is for those who naturally have their care and wellbeing at heart, that is to say, members of the family, where they are willing and able to do so, to take first place in the care and upbringing, not only of children, but of those whose needs, because of disability, extend far into adulthood.
Comment: It is not clear how this might apply in cases where there is a dispute between family members (which, we suggest, is likely to be a substantial proportion of cases heard in the Court of Protection). Nor is it clear how this approach might be applied to deputyship applications by local authorities.