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Landmark judgment raises concerns for professional deputies

Landmark judgment raises concerns for professional deputies


The Court of Protection's ruling on in-house investment managers could reshape practices and obligations for deputies

A landmark ruling by the Senior Judge of the Court of Protection has sent ripples across the legal and financial sectors, particularly impacting professional deputies entrusted with managing the affairs of vulnerable clients. The judgment, delivered by Her Honour Judge Carolyn Hilder, scrutinised the appointment of in-house investment managers by deputies, highlighting potential conflicts of interest and raising significant questions about professional conduct and client welfare.

The Professional Deputies Forum (PDF) has emphasised the importance of upholding the best interests of vulnerable clients in light of this ruling. Chair Stacey Bryant expressed concerns regarding the practical implications of the judgment, particularly for cases where in-house financial advisors have already been appointed. The PDF is committed to fostering best practices among its members and awaits further guidance from the Office of the Public Guardian.

In the case of PW [2024] EWCOP 16, Judge Hilder's ruling underscored the inherent conflict of interest in deputies appointing in-house investment managers from the same organisation. Despite arguments regarding rigorous selection processes, the judgment maintained that such conflicts cannot be eradicated through conventional methods like 'beauty parades' or scorecard approaches.

Crucially, Judge Hilder's ruling necessitates court approval for deputies seeking to engage in-house or connected investment managers. This decision has far-reaching implications, particularly for professional deputies managing a large client base, where significant financial connections exist between the deputy and the appointed investment managers.

The ruling serves as a stark reminder of the paramount importance of transparency, accountability, and adherence to ethical standards within the legal and financial professions. It reinforces the obligation of deputies to act solely in the best interests of their clients, ensuring that conflicts of interest are identified and appropriately managed.

As stakeholders await further guidance from the Office of the Public Guardian, the judgment prompts a critical reflection on industry practices and underscores the need for robust oversight and regulatory measures to safeguard the welfare of vulnerable individuals.

For a detailed summary of the judgment by The Professional Deputies Forum, visit their website. For inquiries or assistance, contact