Happily though, there are two further triggers that might catch the applications that require more than a decision on the papers:
'v) Any potential conflict with any decision of the kind referred to in paragraph 35(x) below. (Advance decisions, or relevant decisions under LPAs and P’s deputy.)'
I wonder if this might encourage more people to think about making health and welfare LPAs? Working within a team of private client lawyers I know that people are frequently uncomfortable with giving the power to make welfare decisions on their behalf to another person, but if applications like this are going to become common place, might it be wise to strengthen the advice given in this regard?
'vi) If for any other reason the court thinks that an oral hearing is necessary or appropriate.'
The parties may have a particular idea of how the application should be dealt with. This idea might not be shared by the judge reviewing the papers as he or she may pick up on an issue that requires resolution. I support this, following my comments above, on the basis that a local authority applicant may indeed miss putting something fundamental in their application due to the sheer pressure of the task upon them to comply.
Another requirement that makes me feel slightly better about the court being in a position to pick up on any objection by P is that the evidence presented to the court when making the application must include:
'xiv) Any factors that ought to be brought specifically to the court's attention (the applicant being under a specific duty to make full and frank disclosure to the court of all facts and matters that might impact upon the court's decision), being factors:
a) needing particular judicial scrutiny; or
b) suggesting that the arrangements may not in fact be in P's best interests or be the least restrictive option; or
c) otherwise indicating that the order sought should not be made.'
Again, this relies on the applicant authority being open and detailed enough in their evidence to the court, but it is the reminder that they are ‘under a duty to make full and frank disclosure to the court of all facts and matters that might impact on the court’s decision’ that makes me feel slightly better that should P not be happy with his or her arrangements, the judge will get to know about it. Furthermore, it does appear from para  that a hearing could be listed at any time, notwithstanding an application was initially brought on a paper basis.
QUESTION 4: What are the irreducible matters that must be addressed in evidence before the court before it can make an order satisfying the requirements of Article 5(1)(e) ECHR?
Put simply, what evidence is required to ensure that individual deprived of their liberty is so detained due to being ‘of unsound mind’?
The President states that this should be compliant with the three Winterwerp requirements and sets this out clearly at para  of his judgment, reproduced here for ease:
with the three Winterwerp [Winterwerp v Netherlands (1979)
2 EHRR 387] requirements is essential to ensure compliance with
Article 5: (i) medical evidence establishing unsoundness of mind, (ii) of a
kind warranting the proposed measures and (iii) persisting at the time when the
decision is taken.'
I don’t think that this will come as a big surprise, nor will it be a particular sticking point for applicant authorities and their advisers. What might be slightly disconcerting for P and P’s family (and their advisers) is that evidence of an ‘unsound mind’ can in some cases (and what cases will those be?) be provided by a GP. While some GP evidence is better than that of some psychiatrist evidence, when we are talking about an individual’s liberty and making decisions on their behalf, I do wonder whether a little more time and expertise in working with capacity assessments might be justified?
Evidence of capacity provided by applicants in support of applications must get better. I am frequently seeing evidence that is woefully inadequate, and in some cases, non existent. Applicants must remember that there is a presumption of capacity and that to establish incapacity, that presumption must be rebutted by clear evidence.
QUESTIONS 7 & 8: Does P need to be joined to any application to the court seeking authorisation of a deprivation of liberty in order to meet the requirements of Art 5(1) ECHR or Art 6 or both? If so, should there be a requirement that P… must have a litigation friend?
Sir James concludes his response to these questions by saying that the rules around P being joined as a party as opposed to being merely involved in the process and the appointments of litigation friends, need to be reviewed urgently by the court. I think the same is true of standard applications, because in situations where capacity is an issue, and the rule states that P must have a litigation friend, what if P is able to give the instructions that are required to conduct litigation to ‘prove’ his or her capacity? There are ways around this, but I think some clarity would be helpful.
Sir James says at para : ‘If P is a party to the proceedings, P must have a litigation friend. If P is participating other than as a party, there is no need for a litigation friend.’
This is supported by an expression that P need not always be joined as a party, but should be given the opportunity to if he or she wishes (para ). This is slightly different to the practice that has developed in welfare proceedings where P is more frequently than not joined as a party and the Official Solicitor is invited to act as litigation friend within the first directions order. I wonder whether we will see a slightly different form of initial directions order in these types of cases?
In cases where the applicant authority, for whatever reason, has been unable to properly record P’s wishes; how will we know if P will want to be a party and if they lack litigation capacity, who is going to act as litigation friend?
QUESTION 16: If P or the detained resident requires a litigation friend, then: (a) Can a litigation friend who does not otherwise have the right to conduct litigation or provide advocacy services provide those services, in other words without instructing legal representatives, by virtue of their acting as litigation friend and without being authorised by the court under the Legal Services Act 2007 to do either or both …?
Given the resistance/refusal of the Government to apply non means tested funding arrangements to legal aid for cases falling within this process, this question is important, but the reality may not be so simple.
In the South West, solicitors in private practice and advocates are to engage in a dialogue with the local Authorities to establish whether IMCAs and advocates can act as a litigation friend, and how that might be funded. The President has suggested that they can act as litigation friend without engaging a solicitor, but from our discussions I am quite sure that an advocacy service would not wish to take on the risk of acting as a litigation friend without the benefit of legal advice. So does this properly protect P as intended?
The alternative is that P, if not joined as a party, should be given the support necessary to express views about the application. Again, I would ask who is going to do that? In cases where health and social care professionals do not have a good relationship with P, is P going to trust them to put their views across for him? IMCAs could certainly help – but where is this extra funding for the already over-stretched advocacy organisations going to come from?
I have raised many questions that as yet, I am not sure can be answered without seeing how the various bodies and organisations respond on the ground when the applications get going. The advice is to start making applications, notwithstanding that the new forms have not come into existence and some of the finer details are yet to be ironed out.
Sir James may be dealing with the inevitable floodgates, but he must also balance this against the costs involved. His process dismisses the suggestion that bulk applications can be made, saying they would be unlawful as the information must be specific to P, which echoes Lady Hale’s concerns that an individual who might lack capacity to make decisions about their care arrangements should be treated the in the same way as those who have capacity, by affirming that they must be treated as an individual. The result is a further increase in cost to the local authority applicants significantly. If the court application fee remains the same then for each individual application there is a cost of £400 (and a further £500 if a hearing is required), as well as the cost of the assessments, compiling the applications, any legal representation required by the authorities, and for P, their families and to the Legal Aid Agency should P be eligible for funding.
I read on the BBC website recently that Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said on the Care Act 2014 that a 'great new system on paper is pointless unless there is sufficient funding in place'. The same rings true here. We are talking about vulnerable people and the respect for fundamental human rights; surely a price shouldn’t be put on that?