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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

01 MAR 2011

From Bedlam to the Court of Protection

James Gatenby

Chavasse Court Chambers, Liverpool

What does the family lawyer, or for that matter any lawyer, do when a client who is anxious about a vulnerable family member comes through the door. The sign outside says ‘family lawyers'. To the man in the street the artificial distinctions drawn by the legal services commission, the profession, or even the court itself, are completely at odds with the natural order. How bizarre it must seem to be told that the family courts cannot exercise their jurisdiction beyond a child's 18th birthday.

Although few family lawyers have any real knowledge of the Court of Protection, most have heard of ‘best interests inherent jurisdiction' cases in the High Court or money cases in the (old) Court of Protection. Both of these jurisdictions protected the interests of those without the capacity to make decisions for themselves but neither survived the introduction of the new Court of Protection on 1 October 2007. The new court is a very different animal to what a simple marriage of the two might produce but one thing it is not is complex. For lawyers used to a different discipline it is simply something of a leap into the unknown. Although just 3 years old, it is a court which has taken shape over a very long time.

To read the rest of this article, see March [2011] Family Law journal.

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