It has not been defined when an application should be classified as “urgent”.
Consensus is that an urgent application is where the court would need to deal with an application as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours.
It is usual for urgent applications to be made within court hours and dealt with at the court itself. On rare occasions, an application can be made out of hours by contacting the court by telephone and explaining the purpose of the application.
If made by telephone, the court will require an undertaking (a formal promise to do something) that the application form in the terms of the oral application will be filed at court.
An urgent order can be used for a variety of reasons such as:
- Where there is a real risk of assets being lost, subject to financial abuse.
- Access to funds in order to pay nursing home or care fees.
- To meet a liability to pay the maintenance of a dependent.
A unique feature of an urgent application is that the court has discretion to disregard the filing of a COP3, the all-important capacity of assessment form. One may think this is odd given the role of the Court of Protection is to be satisfied that P does in deed lack capacity. However, in order to ensure that there is no loss to P, the court will usually waive the need for medical evidence, but limit the application to an interim (temporary) order for a set period. This would therefore ensure that the full application would still be considered at a later stage.
For the court to make such an order there would usually be directions to serve notice on the following:
- Every party to the proceedings.
- Anyone named as respondent in the application.
- Any other person that the court directs.
Everyone should therefore be alive to the notion that the court does have wide discretionary powers in order to “jump” the queue, but it must be justified. The court could award a wasted costs order if the application is without merit.