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Charities asked to provide deputies

The Office of the Public Guardian has issued to care charities and other not-for-profit organisations a ‘call for evidence’ to assess whether they can provide deputies to protect the interests of people who lack mental capacity. Deputies are appointed by the Court of Protection to protect the interests of people who lack mental capacity. Almost all deputies are currently lawyers, although the work is not always legal in nature.?The Public Guardian, Martin John, said: “Deputies play a very important role in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Quite often it may be appropriate for a legally qualified deputy to be appointed. But charities and other third-sector organisations potentially have a huge amount to offer in this area. They bring with them a unique perspective based on many years working closely with users and a deep understanding of the issues that they face. ?“This call for evidence will ensure that we can understand in detail how best charities might be able to contribute in this area and how the OPG might be able to support them better in becoming more actively involved as deputies.”?In the paper, the OPG says that while some deputyships involve the management of complex financial portfolios and an element of litigation, there are a significant number of people whose administrative needs are more straightforward. ?The proposals have received a lukewarm reception from the legal industry. Eddie Fardell, partner and head of the Court of Protection practice ?at law firm Thomson Snell and Passmore, said: “I accept there may be some entirely straightforward cases where a charity, or similar organisation, could, possibly, fulfil the many functions of a deputy. However, I would consider this to be ?the exception rather than the rule. ?“The role of the deputy, in many instances, requires experienced and professional input. There are often complex issues to be dealt with as well as competing family interests. The thought of inexperienced and unqualified employees without professional indemnity insurance carrying out this work is not a comfortable one.”?The call for evidence ends on 27 October. n

25 September 2011

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Charities Vulnerable Clients