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A year on... The regional Court of Protection

The Court of Protection has completed its first year at its base at Preston. Court arrangements and procedures have been tried and tested and the realities of a regional court are becoming clear. Gordon Ashton, Deputy Master at the Court of Protection, assesses the development of the court and what lessons have been learnt for the future.

21 November 2002

A little more than 12 months ago, (ECA, Sept/Oct 2001, vol. 6, iss. 6), I wrote in this journal that the Court of Protection: “is now for the first time in its history to sit outside London in an effort to promote easier access to justice for people with mental incapacity. I am to be appointed a deputy master for six months from 1 October 2001...” It was intended that I would hear any case where it was more convenient for the parties to go to Preston Combined Court Centre where I normally sit as a district judge. It seemed like a dream at the time, but what has happened since then?

Origins

First, a bit of history and a correction. The origins of the court date from the Middle Ages when the crown assumed a parens patriae jurisdiction over the persons and estates of the mentally ill and mentally handicapped. The jurisdiction over a patient’s person was effectively abolished by the Mental Health Act 1959 and that is why we now need a new statutory jurisdi...

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