RP, Re [2016] EWCOP 1 (05 January 2016)

Posted on Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Picture of Alan PickardThis case concerns an application by family members of the Protected Party (P) to be appointed Deputy for P’s property and affairs in place the existing professional deputy

The Facts

P was born on 21st March 1932 and had 5 children, 4 from his first marriage (‘S, C, M and A: also ‘the respondents’’), and one from his third marriage (‘Z’) (P’s wife from his second marriage having died of cancer a year after separation).

In 2007 P suffered a stroke and was formally diagnosed as having vascular dementia in 2014.

P owns a flat worth approximately £450,000 and has approximately £75,000 in a bank account. He received an income from a tobacco company in the USA which he set up, but is now being run by C.

Z applied to the court on 19th May 2015 for the court to appoint a Professional Deputy as Z feared that other family members were taking advantage of him.

A final hearing went ahead on 21st September 2015 but despite the Respondents having complied with all the directions leading to the trial they failed to attend. The court made the order appointing a Solicitor proposed by Z to be P’s interim Deputy for his Property and Affairs for a one-year period.  

The Respondents’ position

It transpired that they had no notification of the same, and therefore the Respondents applied to set aside the order and invited the court to appoint Sarah, S’s wife to become P’s Deputy as they know P’s finances better than anyone else, and that the estate did not warrant the costs of a professional deputy. Further, they alleged that Z struggled with drug addiction and was exerting control over P.

At the hearing the Respondents further argued that there was a clear family division and tension, and serious allegations had been made against the other. The Respondents were concerned that Z would assert influence over the Deputy, as Z had previously instructed the deputy beforehand.

In the event that the court would not appoint Sarah, the Respondents proposed an alternative panel deputy.

The Deputy’s position

The Deputy argued that P’s affairs were complex and that the family members had not been acting in P’s best interests. Family members and P’s accountant had not co-operated with the Deputy in understanding P’s finances and dealings with certain companies. It was unclear to the deputy what had happened to assets that had been transferred.

In an interim report to the court the deputy identified substantial amounts of P’s money that was unaccounted for. No comprehensive accounts had been provided or explained by P’s accountant.

The Law

The court considered sections 1 and 4, 16(2) of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (‘the Act’).

Decision

The court appointed a panel deputy in place of the existing interim deputy.

The full judgment can be read here.

Summary written by Alan Pickard

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