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Stick to issues, barristers told

A judge who sits in a specialist court which handles cases involving sick and vulnerable people has told barristers to stick to the issues and "have regard to the public purse".

Mrs Justice Parker said advocates who appeared in Court of Protection cases had a "particular responsibility" to ensure that arguments focused on facts not theory.

She said every penny spent on Court of Protection litigation came from the public budget and was a penny taken away from care provision.

The judge has made her comments in a written ruling on a Court of Protection case about whether a mentally-ill woman who lives in a care home was capable of making decisions about where she should live.

She said there had been many court hearings during the litigation "most of which" had achieved "almost nothing".

Mrs Justice Parker did not identify the woman involved, b ut she said the local authority with responsibility for the woman was Norfolk County Council.

"I stress that I do not wish to criticise the advocates in this case," said Mrs Justice Parker, who also sits in the Family Division of the High Court. "But I take this opportunity to offer some general guidance derived from my experience in Court of Protection cases."

The judge told lawyers that adopting a "practical approach" did not "detract from intellectual analysis and rigour".

"All those who practice in the Court of Protection must appreciate that those who represent the vulnerable who cannot give them capacitous instructions have a particular responsibility to ensure that the arguments addressed are proportionate and relevant to the issues, to the actual facts with which they are dealing rather than the theory, and to have regard to the public purse, court resources, and other court users," she added.

"Everything comes at a price. And every penny spent on litigation is in reality (because it all comes out of the public budget) a penny taken away from provision for care."


From Belfast Telegraph