Word of the Day: Farrago

Farrago

 

a confused mixture; hodgepodge; medley:

a farrago of doubts, fears, hopes, and wishes.
In my judgment Mr Fitzgerald’s application is, in all its aspects, misconceived, devoid of factual merit, in major part legally groundless and totally without merit. His allegations against Ms Hughes are scurrilous, fatuous and should never have been made. His application for her committal is a farrago of nonsense.

H, Re [2015] EWCOP 52 (05 August 2015)

Absolutely fascinating and relevant for parents of autistic (and other children with mental disabilities), particularly those whose impairments are severe.  Enabling the appointment of successive deputies is a very tricky issue, both legally, practically and also from the point of view that the disabled person should not be considered as a minor child requiring a guardian, nor as a chattel or other asset to be disposed of under a testamentary disposition.

I would so like to meet Master Lush.  He seems to have addressed the issues with tact, discretion and lucidity.  His economy of style is, as always, pleasing.

 

Decision

Although the disadvantages slightly outnumber the advantages, I propose to allow the appointment of successive deputies in this case.

The factor of magnetic importance is that the appointment of successive deputies will give H’s parents peace of mind. It means that they can sleep soundly at night, knowing that they have put their affairs in order. For the last twenty-six years, their lives, their needs and their rights have been completely subordinated to H’s and, when say they that the appointment of successive deputies would be in her best interests, I believe them. Moreover, they still insist that it would be in her best interests, even though they are now fully aware of the problems associated with an appointment of this kind.

In paragraph 8.43 of its report on Mental Incapacity, the Law Commission noted that “many elderly carers of young disabled persons experience great anxiety about what will become of the younger person when they, the carers, have gone.” If an order appointing successive deputies will relieve H’s parents of that anguish, then these proceedings will have been worthwhile.

Putting their affairs in order sounds like making a will. In paragraph 6.21 of its Consultation Paper No 128, the Law Commission observed that some parents attempt to provide a continuing framework of care and supervision for their mentally incapacitated child by means of a testamentary appointment, and went on to say: “We have proposed that the judicial authority have power to appoint successive managers, and think it better in principle to deal with this situation in that way.” Although the Code of Practice contemplates a scenario in which the succession is likely to take place imminently or in the reasonably foreseeable future, it is clear that the circumstances of people like H and her parents were one of the prime considerations that prompted Parliament to enact section 19(5) of the MCA in the first place.

It is suggested that, by appointing them now, the successor deputies will feel a stronger sense of responsibility and commitment towards H. I believe this, too. Their role is not unlike that of godparents. They are individuals who have been selected by the parents to take an interest in their daughter’s upbringing and development and to take care of her when her they are no longer around. English ecclesiastical law anticipates that godparents “shall be persons who will faithfully fulfil their responsibilities” (Canon B23.2). I hope that H’s successor deputies will faithfully fulfil their responsibilities when the time comes for them to take over from her parents, whenever that may be.

via H, Re [2015] EWCOP 52 (05 August 2015).

COURT OF PROTECTION – Geographical closeness is ‘magnetic factor’ for property deputyship

From the STEP weekly digest

COURT OF PROTECTION – Geographical closeness is ‘magnetic factor’ for property deputyship

Two brothers have been appointed deputies for their 93-year-old father’s property affairs on the basis that he lives much nearer to them than to his third son, who was objecting to their deputyship application. The case, DG & Others v Peter (2014 EWCOP 31), embodies the familiar situation of siblings quarrelling over who should look after the finances of an aged parent with dementia.

BAILII

Clicking through to the Bailii site gives another judgment from Master Denzil Lush, a keen observer of humanity’s failings : and he is given ample opportunity to examine them.

In this case, there was nothing to differentiate between the three brothers in any way – they all had skills, willingness and ability to be Deputies.  There were only two factors that separated them that were “magnetic” – geographical proximity and attitude.

      “28.The old authorities on mental capacity law showed a preference to appoint “persons whose residence admits of frequent visits to the patient and inspection of his affairs.” David and Barry live in Surrey. Each of them visits DG two or three times a week. Their wives visit him separately, and their children go and see him regularly, too. By contrast, Peter lives in Yorkshire and gets to see his father about three or four times a year.
      29.Andrea Watts summarised the position rather well in her skeleton argument when she said:

“The reality of the situation is that the applicants are in a position to assist with day to day care and decision making, and the respondent is not. It is not a criticism of him, but the geographical distance simply makes him a less suitable choice of deputy than the applicants.”

      30.I agree. Their geographical location gives David and Barry the edge.

What was also telling was the attitude.  How carefully one must have to speak in front Mr Master Lush:

      31.There is a marked difference between David and Barry’s attitude and approach and Peter’s towards DG’s carers and the management at the residential care home and the statutory authorities responsible for his care. At the hearing on 19 August, David admitted:

“Yes, we agree that [the residential care home] is not perfect, but if anything is wrong I go and talk to the person who is going to get it fixed. At any time I have an issue, I talk to them. They know me and my wife. I have no qualms about the management. It’s not The Ritz. I wouldn’t expect it to be, but the people – the carers – go out of their way to look after my father. Not just the carers but the gardener, the cleaner, the handyman. It’s a very nice environment.”

      32. Peter, on the other hand, said:

“I’ve complained about cleanliness. I’ve complained about security.”

“I complained to the chief executive of Anchor Homes.”

“I have made Freedom of Information Act requests.”

“My parents were put in [the residential care home] against their will: deprived of their liberty by my brothers.”

“I suggested that they feed my mother through a drinking vessel. The care home refused to do that on the grounds that it was undignified.”

“I sent 50 to 100 emails to Social Services badgering them to get Mum and Dad home.”

“Social Services have not followed through any of their promises.”

“The care home won’t talk to me, either. I don’t understand why they won’t talk to me. They won’t give me any information at all.”

“David and Barry don’t have it in them to challenge everybody. [The residential care home] needs challenging. Somebody needs to challenge them. If I were in charge of my father’s finances, I would.”

“In my desire to get deputyship the main reason is to look after the accounts like David, but I would be a lot harder with [the residential care home] in view of their laissez faire attitude.”

    33. This is essentially a matter of attitude and approach or, as Miss Watts described it, ‘tone’. Whereas David and Barry are able to interact successfully with the carers and statutory agencies which have an interest in their father’s welfare, Peter’s relationship with almost everyone is fraught. Although occasionally his complaints have resulted in a successful outcome for his parents, his victories have been pyrrhic, and overall his approach has been counter-productive. He is a compulsive complainer who has unrealistic expectations and a tendency to become bogged down by minutiae. His brothers are not appeasing an enemy, but simply making appropriate responses and avoiding unnecessary conflict with those responsible for their father’s everyday care.
    Block quotes are from the STEP summary or directly from the case itself.  The case is published for public consumption and is not confidential information – although the identities of the individuals are (as is common with the Court of Protection.