Why picking the right professional deputy is so crucial
The risks that can come with not appointing a professional deputy properly for a loved one who has lost mental capacity has been highlighted by a case in which a family were left with a firm trying to recover a £166,000-plus costs bill from them.
Although the solicitor appointed acted perfectly properly, her employer decided to let time she had spent on the case build up over six years and remain on the client’s file as ‘work in progress’, despite her request to write it off.
These time charges had already been disallowed by the Senior Courts Cost Office which makes sure that a solicitor only receives costs which are fair and reasonable.
The High Court ruled that the solicitor in question was not personally liable for the fees, disbursements and costs incurred while acting as a Court of Protection-appointed professional deputy – as her employer had tried to claim.
Instead, her employer then tried to land the bill on the doormat of the family for whom the solicitor had been appointed as deputy for their relative, but this was thrown out by the Court..
What does a deputy do?
Once it has been established that someone doesn’t have the mental capacity to manage their own affairs anymore, it may be decided that a deputy needs to be appointed by the Court of Protection (COP) to deal with their property and financial affairs.
This could be a close relative or friend, known as a lay deputy, or a professional – most often a solicitor – and once approved by the COP, they then have full authority to make financial decisions for that person.
It’s a big undertaking and covers everything including managing investments, looking after tax affairs, budgeting for the future and making sure any ability to claim benefits is preserved.
This can be complicated and is why many families decide to choose a professional deputy to take on the role.
How do you make sure you choose the right professional deputy?
Our expertise is widely recognised in this area of the law and our solicitors are regularly appointed as professional deputies.
Not only is our Court of Protection team highlighted for praise in the independent Legal 500 guide for 2023, Partners Jenny Pierce and Rebecca Parkman are also professional panel deputies for property and affairs.
This means they can be chosen by the Court of Protection when no-one else is willing or able to act as a deputy for someone who lacks mental capacity.
Get in touch
If you have concerns that the actions of a deputy are not in the best interests of the person who lacks capacity, it is important to seek specialist legal advice.
Our expert Disputes Resolution team can explain your options and guide you through the processes involved.