This case saw a departure from the general rule on costs within the Court of Protection with costs being awarded against the London Borough of Lambeth and Lambeth CCG. The Protected Party (P) was originally from Colombia and collapsed in a street in the UK in 2014. She was left with a severe cognitive impairment and remained in hospital for a significant length of time, despite her requests to return to Colombia, and that it was also deemed in her best interests to return there under section 4 of the Mental Capacity Act 20505. P was deemed medical fit for discharge at the end of 2014 but remained in hospital for a further three years before finally returning to Colombia in January 2018.
The court was deeply critical of how the Local Authority and the CCG handled the case both before and during the court proceedings. In his Judgment, Mr Justice Newton wrote that ‘whilst I have no doubt that the [Local Authority] and/or [the CCG] believe they worked tirelessly, the bald fact is that they did not. The enquiries were ineffectual, even amateur’. The Judge went on to conclude that the circumstances of the case were so poor and so extreme (both in relation to the institution of proceedings and their subsequent conduct) that the costs of the proceedings were to be borne by the Local Authority and the CCG both jointly and severally.
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