In this matter, Cumbria County Council was the Local Authority and had been appointed as the deputy to a number of Protected Parties. However, the Local Authority had devised a new set of criteria which would identify any deputyships it no longer wished to act as deputy for. Applications were made to withdraw as deputy and to appoint a new professional deputy in 7 such identified cases.
The Local Authority was directed to prepare a report for each protected party setting out the likely costs of the deputyship if it remained under the control of the Local Authority and the likely costs of the professional deputy if it was appointed. It was noted that the report found that the likely costs would be double if a professional deputy was appointed.
The Local Authority submitted that the court did not have the power to compel it to continue as deputy when it no longer wished to do so. The court considered relevant authorities and noted that where a deputy wishes to discontinue to act in the role, they must make an application to the court. The court must consider the application and make a decision within the ‘parameters of reasonable discretion’. The court emphasised that there cannot be a presumption of the outcome of such an application and the court’s discretion cannot be fettered. When the court considers the application it will take into account whether the application is ‘consistent with the objectives of the MCA i.e. whether or not the application is motivated to promote P’s best interests…If the application appears to be driven by arbitrary or discriminatory criteria devised, for example to save costs, then the court (if the court identifies them) will take them in to account to whatever degree is appropriate when coming to its decision’.
The court also considered whether it could consider whether the Local Authority had acted in compliance with the Equality Act 2010. The court came to the conclusion that ‘it is manifestly the case that this court is unable, within its statutory remit, to grant any public law remedy. This should not be taken as inferring that the court is required to disregard any failure by a public body to protect from discrimination, merely that it has no power to remedy it’.
The full judgement can be read here
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