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Capacity, Empowerment and Transparency in the English Court: Reflections from a Public Observer

Thursday 8 December 15.00-17.00 ( via Zoom)

The Open Justice Court of Protection Project is an initiative founded in June 2020 by concerned citizens (independent of any public body) to support the judicial commitment to transparency at a challenging time. The public health emergency occasioned by COVID-19 meant that court buildings were closed and proceedings were conducted via telephone or video-platform, and proceedings previously listed as 'open to public' were newly designated 'private', with a resulting threat to open justice.

Since June 2020 thousands of public observers (most working in health or social care, plus aspiring lawyers and family members of vulnerable people) have borne witness to the work of the Court of Protection and we have published hundreds of blog posts about specific cases. This talk will explore some of the issues that arise in decision-making-in-practice, especially in relation to the person's capacity to make decisions and the importance placed on the person's will and preferences when decisions are made on their behalf.

It will cover how judges assess what the relevant information is (that a 'capacitous' person must be able to understand, retain and weigh) for the decision that needs to be made, the role of family in decision-making (including undue influence and control), and judicial approaches to the sometimes conflicting values of empowerment and protection. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

Presenter: Professor Celia Kitzinger, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Open Justice Court of Protection Project

Chair: Professor Amanda Phelan, Professor of Ageing and Community Nursing, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin

View the recording

View the slides