The court of protection has launched a new pilot scheme with the aim of introducing more transparency into its workings.
Journalists as well as members of the general public are being given greater access to the court and are now permitted to attend hearings.
Traditionally hearings in the court of protection are held in private rather than in open court.
Safeguards will however remain in place to ensure that the identities of people involved in court of protection cases remain confidential.
These changes follow on from similar reforms in the family courts where hearings have been open to accredited media for the last six years. The experience there has been a positive one and has enabled the public to gain a better understanding of the courts’ work.
The move to a more open court of protection will also see court listings becoming more detailed.
The new Practice Direction – Transparency Pilot issued by Sir James Munby, president of the court of protection, came into force on 29 January 2016. He has stressed how important it is to strike the right balance between greater transparency and safeguarding the privacy of people who lack capacity to make their own decisions.
The overriding concern about the pilot scheme is whether the interests of vulnerable people can still be adequately protected. The focus is therefore likely to be on how the press behave. The pilot is set to run for at least 6 months throughout all regions but may be extended.
Our court of protection lawyers welcome the move towards greater transparency in legal proceedings provided there are adequate safeguards in place to protect the vulnerable.
If you require assistance with any court of protection issue then call our free legal helpline on 0808 139 1606 and speak to one of our specialist court of protection lawyers.