Rebecca Handcock represents local authority in property case considering scope of Court of Protection’s jurisdiction

17 November 2021

Rebecca Handcock defended the successful local authority in a Court of Protection appeal about a refusal to suspend an order for sale of a property.

The case was was complicated by questions over the appellant’s capacity, as well as complex and sensitive family dynamics.

Senior Judge of the Court of Protection, HHJ Hilder heard the case. She considered the limits of the Court of Protection’s jurisdiction. Specifically, the Court of Protection’s inability to determine property disputes, which should be raised in the County Court.

Accordingly she dismissed the appeal.

Background to the case

RKS owned a property which had formerly belonged to her mother. RKS’s brother, IS, had transferred an interest in the property to RKS many years before.

RKS suffered from mental ill health and a lack of capacity, and could not live independently. The local authority (RKS’s property and affairs deputy) determined that it was in her best interests for the property to be sold, and the proceeds invested for her benefit.

However, IS claimed he had an interest in the property and applied to suspend the order for sale. He alleged the siblings had always agreed that his interest should revert back to him if RKS could no longer reside in the property.

IS himself suffered from mental ill health. During the proceedings he spent long periods when his whereabouts were unknown (at certain times he was thought to have been abroad in psychiatric treatment facilities and immigration detention). Nevertheless he claimed that the property (which was in a considerable state of disrepair) should be refurbished, partially at RKS’s expense, to enable him to live there.

Significant work was done by all parties (as well as other relatives of RKS and IS) to try to reach a solution outside of litigation. However it was determined by the local authority that none of the alternatives to sale of the property were in RKS’s best interests.