At the recent South West Court of Protection Practitioners’ Association meeting His Honour Judge Marston revealed the latest plans for regionalisation of the Court of Protection, with Bristol Civil Justice Centre set to become a regional “hub” for Court of Protection cases.
The vast majority of applications to the Court of Protection (over 90%) are non-contentious property and financial affairs matters, which will continue to be dealt with by the central Court in London and will almost always be dealt with “on the papers,” i.e. without a court hearing. It seems likely that contentious property and affairs hearings will also remain in London due to the specialism of Senior Judge Lush in this area.
However, welfare cases e.g. where the Court is required to make a best interests decision regarding residence or contact with a person who lacks capacity and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard cases, will be regionalised.
Phase one of the regionalisation programme is set to commence on 5 October 2015, and could see the number of Court of Protection cases heard in the Bristol court increase significantly. The idea will be for cases to be issued by the Bristol Court rather than the Court of Protection in London.
Hopefully this will ultimately reduce delays in the Court and allow easier access to justice for those who lack capacity and their families and it remains to be seen whether there will be significant disruption during the transition period.