A pilot scheme which has allowed the public and media to gain greater access to Court of Protection hearings is to continue for a further 12 months.
The specialist Court makes decisions about the personal welfare (e.g. medical treatment) and the property and affairs of persons who lack capacity to make them themselves, applying a best interests test.
With rare exceptions, such as serious medical cases, hearings pre-pilot have usually been in private with only those directly involved in the case attending.
The pilot, which commenced in January 2016, has reversed this approach so that the Court will normally direct that its hearings will be in public and make an anonymity order to protect the people involved.
The extended scheme will continue to provide evidence to assess whether the Court should in future hold its hearings in private or in public and whether access should be given to the media but not the public.
Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) have amended the way in which court lists are displayed, so that they provide a short descriptor of what the case is about, allowing the media and members of the public to make an informed decision on whether to attend the hearing.
The Court of Protection’s main base is in London but it also sits throughout England and Wales. The pilot is expected to run in all regions until August 2017 to allow for the changes to be fully tested.
A copy of the extended pilot practice direction and latest pilot order is linked below.