The workings of the Court of Protection continue to improve but still have a long way to go, its President Sir James Munby has said.
Sir James, President of the Family Division and Court of Protection, was the keynote speaker at a seminar hosted by No5 Barristers’ Chambers in Birmingham last Wednesday.
Highlighting how the Court of Protection deals with medical cases, Sir James also mentioned the high profile legal row over the treatment of baby Charlie Gard – although that case was brought under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court.
“The Court of Protection continues to deal efficiently and effectively with urgent medical cases, but non-emergency cases are still taking far too long to resolve and it is simply not good enough.
“In the case of Charlie Gard, we saw discussions up and down the appeal ladder more than once – the problem being that these discussions are never purely medical. Doctors can give a diagnosis and prognosis, but when you go beyond that you enter the realms of morality, ethics and religion.
“But the simple fact is we live in a system dominated by the Rule of Law and decisions made by judges – there are certain cases that should always come before a court.”
Sir James went on to outline the ‘profoundly difficult problems’ surrounding how the law deals with the liberty and security of children under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the fine line between protecting a child and acting lawfully.
“English law does not provide clear answers to basic questions on parents’ rights to regulate their children’s movements – what is the poor parent supposed to do?”
Sir James answered questions from solicitors, practitioners, health and social care professionals and advocates. He said 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.
Nageena Khalique QC, Head of the Court of Protection Group at No5 Barristers’ Chambers, chaired the meeting and presented a talk on a recent High Court case concerning Islamic practices in the Court of Protection. She thanked Sir James for attending.
“We are delighted and honoured to again welcome Sir James to our Court of Protection seminar. As always, we benefit from his wealth of knowledge and experience. He tantalised us about a recent appeal in which he will be handing down a judgment shortly. The appeal concerns the tricky issue of deprivation of liberty, parental rights and children. We wait with great anticipation”.
Nageena also thanked guest speakers, Dr Lucy Series, Welcome Research Fellow and Lecturer in Law at Cardiff University, who delivered a captivating lecture on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and supported decision making and Dr Lisa Rippon, Consultant Psychiatrist, who presented an insightful talk on the difficulties in assessing capacity in the learning disabled and autistic patient.
The Court of Protection group at No5 is an experienced and knowledgeable team which is recognised nationally and is ranked as a chambers as well as individuals in leading directories, Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500. 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.