Christine Cooper defends attorneys in Court of Protection proceedings: Public Guardian ordered to pay costs

22 March 2024

Christine Cooper represented 2 attorneys for a woman with dementia (MAM) in Court of Protection proceedings brought by the Office of the Public Guardian. The Public Guardian had applied to revoke the attorneys’ lasting powers of attorney alleging they acted contrary to MAM’s best interests.

Unusually the court ordered the Public Guardian to pay half the attorneys’ legal costs.

Office of Public Guardian’s involvement

The Public Guardian became involved in the case after the attorneys disputed the substantial sums the local authority claimed MAM should contribute towards the cost of the care home where she lived.

The local authority then reported the matter to the Office of Public Guardian as the statutory body responsible for supervising  attorneys’ actions.

The Public Guardian carried out an investigation and subsequently issued proceedings in the Court of Protection to revoke the lasting powers of attorney.

Court of Protection decision

In a judgment handed down this week, the Court of Protection criticised the investigator employed by the Public Guardian. It found that her approach had been neither reasonable nor proportionate.

The court considered that the investigator’s evidence suggested she had prejudged matters without properly completing her enquiries. It dismissed the Public Guardian’s application.

Attorneys’ costs

The court then considered who should pay the attorneys’ costs of defending the application. (Usually the costs of such a claim in the Court of Protection would have been met from MAM’s funds).

However, the court decided that the Public Guardian’s clear failures justified making a different order and the Public Guardian was ordered to pay 50% of the attorneys’ costs and to make a substantial payment on account.