A north-west firm is considering appealing a Court of Protection ruling in which it was removed as a financial deputy in a case concerning deprivation of liberty and care arrangements.
In Mrs P v Rochdale Borough Council and NHS North, Central and South Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups, district judge Ranj Matharu, sitting at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, said the court was satisfied that Temperley Taylor, which has offices in Middleton, Manchester and Heywood, was not acting in Mrs P’s best interests.
Explaining the background to the case, the judgment states that Mrs P lacks capacity to make decisions as to where to reside.
Her care is fully funded by the local clinical commissioning group. But it was established that a number of her ‘challenging behaviours’ could be improved by increasing the standard and quality of her living arrangements, which could be funded with monies theoretically at her disposal.
Alan Cryne, managing partner of Temperley Taylor, lodged a property and financial affairs application last year on the basis ‘which appeared to be that his firm… was well placed to manage her property and financial affairs because she had been a “long-standing client and they held her will”’, the judgment states.
An interim order authorising Cryne to investigate Mrs P's assets, income and liabilities was made in September last year. A court order for his appointment as deputy for property and financial affairs was made in March this year.
Matharu said various care plans and assessments had repeatedly raised the need to reappraise Mrs P's needs and to financially provide for her in relation to her diet, weight loss and new clothes.
Mrs P has coeliac disease and assessments ‘made clear’ that the only living being with whom she shares any love or devotion is her dog, Bobby, now with a new owner.
‘The court is told that her “face lights up” when she sees other dogs. These are all matters which are affecting the quality of her life. They are again provided for and addressed in her most recent care plan. They are extremely important to and for her,’ Matharu said.
The judgment states that £500 was sought from the deputy to enable the purchase of clothes, as well as to purchase more varied food. A request was also made that Mrs P’s dog be brought to her.
A letter dated 6 June from the official solicitor’s representative, identifying what was required and why, appeared to have prompted no response, Matharu said.
A letter was received from the deputy’s practice on 7 July, containing what Matharu described as ‘curious’ information in respect of Mrs P’s financial affairs, referring to a nil balance on one account that, in October 2015, had nearly £7,000 in it.
In an email sent on 13 July to northern firm Switalskis, which was acting on behalf of the official solicitor, Temperley Taylor said in the absence of certain factual information ‘it would seem irresponsible in the extreme to suggest that a dog visits a care home for elderly and frail people’.
Matharu said the court was satisfied the firm was not acting in Mrs P’s interests based on what the court had seen or heard.
‘The delay in establishing Mrs P’s financial position is inexplicable,’ the judgment states. ‘In fact, it is entirely unclear on what basis they consider the steps they have taken to be in her interests. Their sole focus should and can only be Mrs P, yet they appear to be working against the litigation friend and not with them.’
Matharu said the firm’s comments in its 13 July email were ‘brutal and insensitive’.
Matharu added: ‘When enquiries were made of them, they appeared to reject such questioning or consider themselves challenged in some inappropriate way. That is not the case. The questions being put to them were a line of reasonable enquiry by the litigation friend as to Mrs P’s best interests.
‘I have had regard to the financial information at C67-8. In around October 2015 the money in her NatWest account was around £7,000. Now there is a nil balance. That is all the court is told. “Troubling” is the term that I would use and this is an understatement.’
Matharu revoked any authority the deputy had by way of the order made in March.
The firm told the Gazette: ‘Temperley Taylor are a highly regarded firm of solicitors and have extensive experience of acting in this area of law.
'We are obviously unable to respond to your request for comment on your article without sight of it and in the light of the need to protect client confidentiality. We are actively considering an appeal against this judgment.’