JW, Re [2015] EWCOP 82 (02 December 2015)

Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Picture of Alan PickardSenior Judge Lush approves a son’s Application to replace a Local Authority as Deputy.

These proceedings related to an elderly widow Protected Party who had seven children, namely:

 D, who died in August 2014, J, aged 71, R, aged 69, G, 65, who was a semi-retired builder, K, aged 63, S, aged 58 who had a learning disability with the result that East Sussex County Council acted as her Deputy for property and affairs & finally DE, aged 54.

The Protected Party used to live in a cottage in East Sussex with her two youngest children, S and DE, but since 2013 she had been a resident in a local care home suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia since about 2009. Her cottage was worth roughly £350,000, and she has also inherited the estate of her late daughter D, who died intestate. D’s estate consists principally of a house in East Sussex which in its current state of repair was worth about £150,000. 

On 10 December 2013 the authorised officer of ESCC was appointed as her Deputy for property and affairs.

On 2 March 2015 G applied to be appointed as Joint Deputy for property and affairs jointly with the Council.

G, a builder filed a witness statement which stated inter alia that he was due to retire and would be able to devote more time to looking after his mother’s affairs. He stated that he would also be able to renovate the house inherited by his Mother in East Sussex at an estimated cost of £35,000. This would render the property more saleable and enhance the valuation up from £149,000 to circa £220,000. It was his position that the Deputy would not consider this option and that they wished to sell the property.

ESCC filed their position statement in which they inter alia felt that it would be a conflict of interest for G to be appointed Deputy, as he stands to make a financial gain from the cost of the building works to his late sister’s property and would also seek the reimbursement of his time/travel costs in dealing with her estate.

On 27/10/15 G applied to become sole Deputy rather than Joint and stated that he felt that a Joint Deputyship with ESCC would not work nor be in the Protected Party’s best interests.

A Hearing took place on 28/10/15 before Senior Judge Lush when he decided to allow G’s revised application and appoint him as the Protected Party’s Deputy in place of ESCC. The main reason for appointing him was he thought it would be sensible to repair and renovate the inherited house so that it can be sold to best advantage.

He also stated that the conflict of interest issues would be addressed by providing 8 appropriate and effective safeguards to prevent abuse.

The full judgment can be read here

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