Editors Urged to Engage With Court of Protection Pilot

Local and national press editors are encouraged to engage with the courts’ preparation for the pilot scheme which will open up Court of Protection hearings to the public and media in London and the regions. 

Contact details for the HM Court and Tribunal Service officials responsible for the Court of Protection’s administrative regional hubs have been supplied by the Ministry of Justice, so that editors can initiate discussions on reporting practicalities. 

These have been circulated to member publishers by the News Media Association, which previously encouraged and welcomed the initiative.  

The guidance to judges on the open justice pilot and media matters has also been distributed. This too encourages courts’ preparatory discussion with the media, as agreed with the NMA.

The MoJ has confirmed that training for staff and judges is underway and editors should get in touch now on working arrangements for reporting.  

Santha Rasaiah, NMA legal, policy and regulatory affairs director, said: “The NMA has circulated to all its members the guidance to court of protection judges and list of regional contacts that the Ministry of Justice has helpfully provided, as we had suggested.

“These are intended to facilitate local discussion between the court and editors now to ensure workable practical  access and reporting arrangements are in place when the pilot starts.

“This includes advance notification and details of hearings, notification and service of anonymity orders and opportunity to be heard if parties intend to oppose the ‘default’ pilot order for public hearing of any case.

“We encourage editors to make contact now as the pilot is due to launch at the end of this month. The date will be announced shortly. 

The Court of Protection makes decisions about the personal welfare, such as medical treatment, and the property and affairs of persons who lack capacity to make them themselves, applying a best interests test.

With rare exceptions, such as serious medical cases, hearings have usually been in private with only those directly involved in the case attending.

The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary has said the pilot, which is set to begin shortly, will reverse this approach and the Court will normally direct that its hearings will be in public and make an anonymity order to protect the people involved.

The scheme will provide evidence to assess whether the Court should in future hold its hearings in private or in public and whether access should be given to the media but not the public.