Glasnost reaches the Court of Protection but is this a good thing? Caroline Dinenage in introducing the Pilot Scheme said that 'It's right the public and media should be able to see justice being done in this important court..'. With a heavy sigh and sardonic smile I ask myself - Is it really? I only ask as some of the cases that I have been involved in have more to do with the dysfunction in the modern family rather than important questions involving the public interest. I can only hope that the 6 month pilot assists us in producing a more accountable court with carefully scrutinised decisions rather than producing a voyeuristic free for all.
Public and media will gain greater access to Court of Protection hearings after a pilot scheme starting next year. The specialist Court makes decisions about the personal welfare (e.g. medical treatment) and the property and affairs of persons who lack capacity to make them themselves, applying a best interests test. With rare exceptions, such as serious medical cases, hearings have usually been in private with only those directly involved in the case attending. The pilot will reverse this approach and the Court will normally direct that its hearings will be in public and make an anonymity order to protect the people involved. The scheme will provide evidence to assess whether the Court should in future hold its hearings in private or in public and whether access should be given to the media but not the public.