The first report into the work of Court of Protection, established when the Mental Capacity Act came into force on 1 October 2007, reveals a consistent failure to meet five out of six targets for the time taken to respond to applicants and arrange hearings.
In his introduction, the Senior Judge of the Court of Protection, Denzil Lush, summarises the first two years by acknowledging that it has not been plain sailing. The judge says:
"The court has had to endure more than its fair share of setbacks, which were caused in the main by a failure to anticipate, prior to the implementation of the Act, the volume of work that would inundate the court during the initial transitional period, and the overall burden it would place on the judges and staff."
During its first 18 months, the court received 1,248 complaints about delays, the time taken to process applications, and judicial decisions. In the nine months from 1 April 2009 to 31 December 2009, however, there were just 424 complaints, a significant reduction achieved by using visiting judges.
Lush also states:
"….there have, nonetheless, been some significant achievements following the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act. These include the expansion of the court so nominated judges can hear cases in the regions; the successful 'transition' of 7,000 Mental Health Act receiverships into deputyships; the implementation of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards; and the integration of the court into HMCS."
The report describes the wide variety of work undertaken by the court and includes a summary of the reported decisions of the past two years.