The Court of Protection appoints deputies and Lasting Powers of Attorneys to protect the assets of people who lack mental capacity. Many of the hearings in the Court of Protection are confidential. This is because very vulnerable people need confidentiality in order to ensure that unscrupulous persons do not take advantage of them. The same applies to deputies and attorneys who should not, as a general rule, disclose private and confidential information to other parties.
Against that, deputies do have an obligation to involve the protected person and their carers/family in decision making as much as possible. Deputies therefore have a discretion to release some information to relevant parties. That discretion is however limited and deputies must at all times ensure that their client’s are not made vulnerable to exploitation.
This does leave deputies in a difficult position. Many deputies, particularly lay deputies, will take the position that they are not going to disclose anything to anyone. This however, can be contrary to their clients’ best interests. Families and carers can add real value to the clients life experience and should not be shut out.
If there is some real concern as to whether there is some information that should be disclosed or not, it is possible to go to the Court of Protection and seek an Order that it either is disclosed or is not disclosed.
If there is real concern as to a deputy or an attorney’s conduct, a complaint can be made to the Office of the Public Guardian, which is the government body that supervises deputies and attorneys. They can advise a deputy as to the appropriateness of whether information is disclosed or not. You can contact them on Telephone – 0300 456 0300 or at [email protected]
If family or carers have grave concerns as to a deputy or attorney’s actions, they should take legal advice. This might include writing formally to the deputy setting out the reasons why disclosure is in the best interest of the protected party. If that is not sufficient, they do that the right to take the matter to the Court of Protection, who can remove the deputy or attorney.