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Cases > Subject : Bias or Deputyship cases or LPA cases - all or SRA decisions

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Page name Sentence Summary
Blavo and Co Solicitors (SRA decision: closure) (2015) MHLO 70

Reasons for closure of Blavo & Co Solicitors

The SRA closed down Blavo & Co Solicitors and suspended John Blavo's practising certificate, giving the following reasons: (a) there is reason to suspect dishonesty of the part of a manager or employee of Blavo & Co Solicitors Limited; (b) there is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of John Blavo in connection with his practice; (c) to protect the interests of clients of Blavo & Co Solicitors Limited.

JG v Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (2019) UKUT 187 (AAC)

Non-legal research by judge

Judicial summary from gov.uk website: "Mental Health First-tier Tribunal - Judicial Bias - Apparent bias - Breach of Natural Justice - Procedural Irregularity. Where a First-tier Tribunal judge undertook non-legal research by accessing a court of appeal judgment in respect of the appellant, did this lead to a presumption of bias and automatic disqualification? Did it lead to a conclusion of a real possibility of bias? Whether so doing amounts to a procedural irregularity leading to a breach of natural justice in that it rendered the hearing unfair. In the circumstances appertaining there can be no presumption of bias leading to automatic disqualification. On the facts of the case there was no real possibility of bias. Undertaking the non-legal research was a procedural irregularity but on the facts the hearing was not unfair."

John Blavo v Law Society (2017) EWHC 561 (Ch)

Statutory demands set aside

"In November 2015 the Law Society served a statutory demand on Mr Blavo claiming that he owed it £151,816.27. In February 2016 the Law Society served a second statutory demand on Mr Blavo claiming that he owed it a further £643,489.20. On 14 December 2015 Mr Blavo applied to set aside the first statutory demand. On 11 March 2016 Mr Blavo applied to set aside the second statutory demand. ... It is the costs of the intervention, from 15 October 2015 to 20 January 2016, into the company and Mr Blavo's practice which are the underlying subject matter of the statutory demands. ... It follows from all I have said that I have concluded that the statutory demands in this case should be set aside because the debts in question are not for liquidated sums."

Maitland-Hudson v SRA (2019) EWHC 67 (Admin)

Dishonest solicitor

"The Appellant appeals against findings of misconduct and dishonesty made against him by ... the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ... Pursuant to those findings, on 2 May 2018 the Appellant was struck off the Roll of Solicitors and ordered to pay the SRA's costs, including £300,000 by way of interim payment. The Tribunal found the Appellant to have been guilty of misconduct "at the highest level", characterised as "deliberate, calculated and repeated… over a number of years". It was aggravated by the Appellant's dishonesty and attempts to defend his conduct. The appeal is based on grounds of alleged procedural unfairness, specifically that the Appellant, a litigant in person, was substantially impaired in his ability to defend himself, to the extent that he admitted himself to hospital. Despite the fact that consultant psychiatrist experts on both sides found that the Appellant was unable to represent himself, the Tribunal refused to dismiss the proceedings on the basis of "incurable unfairness" or even to stay or adjourn their remainder."

NKR v The Thomson Snell And Passmore Trust Corporation Ltd (2019) EWCOP 15

Appointment of property and affairs deputy

"The application before the Court is for the discharge of the appointment of an existing professional property and affairs deputy, and the appointment of another instead. The discharge of the current deputy is agreed but there is an issue as to who should be appointed instead. ... In the matter of Re AS; SH v LC [2012] MHLO 113 (COP), [2013] COPLR 29 at paragraph 22 Senior Judge Lush set out "generally speaking" an order for preference of various candidates for appointment as deputy. A panel deputy is included "as deputy of last resort," after "a professional adviser, such as the family's solicitor or accountant." ... I am not aware of any previous appointments of a barrister as professional deputy (as distinct from a family member who just happens to be a barrister by profession but is appointed on the usual non-remunerated basis of a family member). Not being considered by the Bar Council as 'a legal service', discharge of the functions of deputyship is apparently not subject to the Bar Council's full regulatory force. However, the risk of property and affairs deputyship lies chiefly in misappropriation of funds. It seems to me beyond debate that misappropriation of MBR's funds whilst acting as deputy would count as "behaviour which diminishes trust and confidence" in Ms. Sood individually and her profession generally, and so Ms. Sood's holding of deputyship appointment would be subject to some professional regulation. ... On the information presently available to me, I am willing to accept that Ms. Sood is personally and professionally a suitable person to hold a deputyship appointment. Her appointment is however not the only option before the Court. A panel deputy has also been identified as willing to act ... Taking all matters into consideration, I conclude that it is in the best interests of MBR for Mr. Kambli to be appointed as replacement deputy upon discharge of the appointment of TSPTC."

PBC v JMA (2018) EWCOP 19

Gifts

"PBC is the son of JMA, and was appointed as her sole attorney for property and affairs by a Lasting Power of Attorney ... He seeks the authority of the Court to make from JMA’s estate various gifts together exceeding £7 million. The purpose of such gifting, openly stated from the outset of the application, is to achieve - as long as JMA lives at least a further 3 years - reduction of inheritance tax liabilities. The parties have reached an agreement between themselves. Together, they ask the Court to make orders to give effect to their agreement. The matter was listed for hearing because the Court sought assistance in order to reach a conclusion as to whether or not the terms of that agreement are in the best interests of JMA."

Public Guardian v DA (2018) EWCOP 26

LPA wording - euthanasia and multiple attorneys

"This judgment concerns two test cases brought by the Public Guardian, by applications made under s.23 and Schedule 1 paragraph 11 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, regarding the validity of words in lasting powers of attorney ('LPAs'). The first concerns words relating to euthanasia or assisted suicide, whereas the second concerns words as to the appointment of multiple attorneys. Although the substance of the issues to which the words are directed is very different in the two cases, there is considerable overlap in the legal argument, the active parties were the same in the two sets of proceedings (the Public Guardian and the Official Solicitor) represented by the same counsel, and it is convenient to consider both cases in one judgment."

Re AR (2018) EWCOP 8

Deputy - remuneration

"The main reason why this application has been transferred to me is that it raises issues relating to the validity of the orders relied on by Mr Cawthorn to enable him to charge remuneration as a deputy."

Re BGO: Office of the Public Guardian v PGO (2019) EWCOP 13

LPA witnessed by attorney

"Some time later one of the financial institutions to which the registered property and affairs LPA was sent noticed that BGO’s signature on the instrument had been witnessed by one of the attorneys (MAB), which is contrary to the requirements of Regulations. ... The Public Guardian applied to the Court for a determination as to whether or not the requirements for creation of an LPA were met, and directions as to whether the Public Guardian should cancel the registration of the instrument. ... The wording of paragraph 18 of Schedule 1 is mandatory. Because the requirements of execution have not been met, I must direct the Public Guardian to cancel the registration of BGO’s LPAs. ... For many donors, the failure of their LPA because of a defect in execution can be overcome by the relatively simple step of granting fresh powers, taking care to ensure that the requirements are met – an irritation perhaps and an expense but not an insurmountable hurdle. However, that option is not open to BGO. Sadly, before this defect was identified, BGO’s capacity had deteriorated to the point where she is unable to execute fresh LPAs. ... In the absence of attorneys to manage her property and affairs, the Court may appoint a deputy or deputies. ... In respect of health and welfare, the Court may also appoint a deputy or deputies if considered appropriate, although it does so much more rarely. However, pursuant to section 20(5) of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, a deputy cannot be given powers to refuse consent to the carrying out or continuation of life-sustaining treatment. In her welfare instrument, BGO had ticked the box to confirm that she wanted to give her attorneys this power. On the failure of her LPA, there is no means for the Court to give effect to her wishes in this respect. ... The Respondents are invited to make an application for appointment as property and affairs deputies for BGO. ... If the Respondents, or any of them, seek the appointment of a welfare deputy or deputies for BGO, they should also file at Court within 28 days a COP24 statement which sets out any welfare issues which require decisions to be made, why (having regard to s5 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005) an order is needed and why (having regard to section 16(4) of the Act) the decisions should be taken by a deputy rather than the Court."

Re M: A v Z (2018) EWCOP 4

COP bias

"This matter concerns an appeal from the order of HHJ Roberts made on 18 July 2018 in Court of Protection (COP) proceedings concerning M. The appellants are M's mother and father in law who have the care of X, M's son age 12. ... Mr Simblet relies on four grounds of appeal: (1) There was apparent bias, in that the judge stated her intention in the exchange between the judge and the legal representatives, in the absence of the parties, to decide the application consistent with decisions made in different proceedings. (2) The judge wrongly felt constrained to reach a decision that would be consistent with a decision she had reached in different proceedings. (3) There was a material irregularity, in that the Judge took into account material from different proceedings, and the [paternal grandparents] within the COP proceedings were unable to properly know the case against them or that they had to meet. (4) In reaching her decision the judge failed to identify or give sufficient weight to factors that were relevant to M's best interests."

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