Getting the public interested in the workings of the Court of Protection is proving a Herculean task, its President Sir James Munby has said.
Sir James, President of the Family Division and Court of Protection, was the guest of No5 Barristers Chambers at an informal evening at their Birmingham Chambers. Following a brief outline of the progress being made to make the Court of Protection more open through its Transparency Pilot, he answered questions from solicitors, practitioners, health and social care professionals and advocates.
“The Transparency Pilot is conceptually very important, and very close to my heart, but has had virtually no impact on the ground,” said Sir James.
“In an ideal world, we would be teaching children in schools how the law works – not just the welfare state and Court of Protection, but the judicial system, the constitution and significant examples such as Brexit and Article 50.”
Sir James also talked about regionalisation of CoP which he said was vitally important: “We have to take justice to the people and not expect people to come to us.”
And he said the next level was to hear cases much more locally, at the ‘convenience of families’.
“Particularly in places like central Wales, East Anglia and the Lake District we are looking at administering justice in appropriate settings that are not necessarily a designated court,” said Sir James. As long as the building is suitable, a judge could hear cases right at the heart of the locality.
Overall, Sir James said initiatives to implement the disciplines of the Family Court into the workings of CoP was going well, and described the future as ‘rosy’.
And he added that a vital part of his job was to attend meetings such as the one at No5 where he could hear the views of those who the law would affect first hand.
“I couldn’t do my job without getting a temperature gauge of how things are for you. I always learn something and your feedback is vital. So thank you all for taking the time to help me do my job.”
Nageena Khalique QC, head of the Court of Protection Group at No5 Barristers’ Chambers, thanked Sir James for attending.
Afterwards she said: “We are so grateful to Sir James for taking time out to come to talk to us about the workings of the both the Family Division and the Court of Protection.
“It was a real privilege to be given an insight into his wealth of knowledge and experience and hear the progress being made in both the Transparency Pilot and Section 49 Pilot.
“The calibre and variety of questions from the floor demonstrated a real appetite for updates and understanding from CoP, and I hope that our audience went away enlightened and reassured that so much positive work is being done.”
Court of Protection is a fast-growing and ever evolving practice, and the group at No5 is one of the largest and most experienced. Award winning No5 is one of the UK’s largest sets of chambers with offices in Birmingham, London, Bristol and Leicester and is home to more than 240 members including 36 Queens Counsel.