Court of protection

The Court of Protection is a specialist court which was set up under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to help people who do not have the mental capacity to make certain decisions.

It has the power to make decisions for people about their money, property, health or welfare.

The Court can also give these powers to someone else like a relative or close friend who can manage their loved one’s affairs. This usually happens if there is a need to make decisions on a long-term basis. If the Court gives these powers to someone else, they are called a deputy

How does it work?

The government makes decisions on financial or welfare matters for you if you cannot make decisions at the time they need to be made (when you ‘lack mental capacity’). When making a decision for someone who lacks capacity, the Court should act in their best interest.

This isn't the same as deciding what you would have wanted. But it takes into account what your wishes were when you had capacity. It also considers the views of your close family or carers.

Who is involved?

Anyone can apply to the Court on behalf of someone who lacks capacity or who they think lacks capacity. Often it will be a family member, an NHS trust or a council.

When does this apply?

The Mental Capacity Act applies to anyone over the age of 16. Decisions about your capacity and best interests are made in the same way as for any adult. If legal proceedings concerning someone aged 16-17 are being heard in Court, the Court of Protection may refer the decision to the Family Courts. Or the Family Courts may refer the decision to the Court of Protection.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs)

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards aim to make sure that people in care homes and hospitals are looked after in a way that does not inappropriately restrict their freedom (legally this is called a Deprivation of Liberty).

The law sets out a process that hospitals and care homes must follow if they believe it is in the person's best interest to restrict their freedom. It is then the role of a social worker to assess whether the deprivation of liberty is in the person’s best interest. They must then apply to the Court of Protections for a DoLS order.