A Local Authority v M [2014] EWCOP 33, [2014] MHLO 119

(1) Legal Aid: "One lesson of this case is that, if parties such as E and A are to be unrepresented in hearings of this kind, be it in the Court of Protection or in the Family Court, the hearings will often take very considerably longer than if they were represented. Denying legal aid in such cases is, thus, a false economy." (2) Disclosure: "In total, the court papers filled some 33 lever arch files (court documents and file records) plus two further lever arch files of documents produced by E and A during the hearing. No doubt if the parents had been represented, it might have been possible to reduce this material into a core bundle, as I did myself at the conclusion of the hearing. Even those 35 files may not represent the totality of the disclosable documents that might have been produced. ... This illustrates another consequence of parties appearing without representation in these cases, namely that the courts may have to devise new rules as to disclosure." (3) Fact finding: "The principal focus of this hearing has been to make findings on disputed issues of fact as the basis for future decisions about M's life. In my judgment, the legal principles to be applied at a fact finding hearing in the Court of Protection should be broadly the same as in children's proceedings where a court is investigating allegations that a child has been ill-treated or neglected. I have summarised those principles in a number of children's cases, including Re JS [2012] EWHC 1370 (Fam)B. Of those principles, the following seem to me to be of particular importance in this case. ..." (4) Orders: Various interim orders, including on contact and residence, were made and a decision on deputyship was adjourned.

Related judgments

A Local Authority v M [2015] EWCOP 69, [2015] MHLO 135

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