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Open up Court of Protection, says leading judge

The head of the Court of Protection has called for it to be opened up to public scrutiny. Sir Nicholas Wall told The Guardian in November that the current “stalemate” between the court, the public and the media “is not satisfactory from anyone’s point of view” and called for a public debate into the practices, followed by legislation enshrined in an Act of parliament.

1 December 2011

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“It seems to me a matter of public interest. The public is, after all, entitled to know what’s going on. Locking up a mentally disabled person is a very serious thing to do and we don’t want people quietly locked up in private,” said Wall, the president of the Family Division.

Even without a parliamentary statute, Wall said that he is “increasingly encouraging judges who deal with life and death cases and those that involve the public interest... either to sit in open court or to publish their judgments anonymously. The public deserve to know about how they are decided,” Wall told The Guardian.

Wall acknowledged that his call to ?open up the court would be hard for ?many judges to accept. “The decision about opening up the court is very fraught and people have very strong views,” he said. ?“My entirely personal view is that, provided we can protect the confidentiality of litigants and their families, there’s not a reason we can’t hear the cases in the presence of the media.

“But that’s not a view shared by all judges. There’s a very powerful lobby which says these are confidential proceedings. But, equally, there’s a powerful lobby saying lots of public money is funding this very important work, and the public have a right to know about it.” n

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