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Mental Capacity

Independent Mental Capacity Advocates & Relevant Person's Representatives

As an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) or Relevant Person's Representative (RPR), you might sometimes need legal support to carry out your role. Irwin Mitchell's experienced team of mental capacity lawyers can provide expert advice and representation when you need to dispute a decision or challenge a deprivation of liberty.

Deprivation of Liberty challenges can be particularly tricky for IMCA and RPRs and legal advice can help you comply with the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). Challenges can be made on a number of grounds for people lacking mental capacity, including:

  • When the person disputes the assessment that they lack capacity
  • When the person wishes to leave residential care and move back to their own home
  • When the person wishes to move to a different, less restrictive, residential placement

In addition to cases under the DoLS regime, our mental capacity solicitors can also help IMCAs and RPRs with issues concerning:

  • Welfare disputes, including disputes about placements, contact with family or safeguarding concerns
  • Concerns over capacity assessments, including capacity to consent to sex and capacity to marry
  • Disputes about serious medical treatment, including withdrawal of life sustaining treatment
  • Acting as a 'litigation friend'
  • Court of Protection proceedings

We understand that these issues can be time consuming for IMCAs, RPRs and other advocates and we work hard to ensure that the process is as simple and straightforward as possible. To find out more about how we can help, contact us online or call our team today on 0800 028 1943.

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Dedicated Court of Protection team
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Independent Mental Capacity Advocates and Relevant Person's Representatives - More Information
    • What Are IMCAs, RPRs And PRPRs?
    • When someone lacks the mental capacity to make a decision about a specific issue, an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) will often be appointed to consult about what is in the person's best interests if there is no one else appropriate.

      Relevant Person Representatives (RPRs) are appointed to represent people subject to a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) authorisation in a hospital or care home. The RPR supports them through the process, including supporting them to challenge their deprivation of liberty if required.

      When there is no one else appropriate to take on the role of representative, a paid relevant person's representative (PRPR) will be appointed.

    • What Is The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005?
    • The Mental Capacity Act 2005 ('the MCA') is the law which sets out how decisions must be made on behalf of people who lack mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. It requires that any decision made on behalf of such a person must be made in their best interests.

      People involved with this decision-making process could include family members, advocates (including Independent Mental Capacity Advocates), care home managers and other care organisations. In the vast majority of cases, all involved parties can agree on a decision by following the 'best interests' decision making process under the MCA. However, when a serious dispute arises under the MCA, cases can be referred to the Court of Protection for a decision.

    • What Is The Court Of Protection?
    • The Court of Protection helps people who are mentally incapable of making their own decisions.  It does this by making decisions for them about their money, property, health or welfare.

      The Court can also give these powers to someone else if there is a need for decisions to be made on an ongoing basis. If the Court gives these powers to someone else, they will be known as a Deputy. We can help you apply to become a Deputy or act as a Deputy ourselves.

      The Court of Protection can also intervene if there are disputes about any decisions that have been made on behalf of a mentally incapable person or about who should be making those decisions.

      Read more about the Court of Protection.

    • Is There Any Funding Available?
    • Legal Aid is available for this area and is not means tested in some cases. This means that it is available to anyone subject to a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) authorisation, regardless of their level of income or capital. In other welfare cases means tested legal aid is available. It is the person being represented whose means are tested for legal aid, rather than the means of the IMCA, RPR or other litigation friend.

      In other cases, it may be appropriate to proceed on a privately funded basis.

    • Meet The Experts
    • Irwin Mitchell's team of mental capacity solicitors is ranked first in the country by Chambers & Partners and Legal 500, organisations that survey and evaluate lawyers and firms around the world. A number of individuals in the team are also ranked highly:-

      • Yogi Amin - "a ground-breaking lawyer, always looking for new areas where vulnerable clients need help" who is highlighted for his "huge amount of experience in Court of Protection work." - Chambers & Partners 2017
      • Alex Rook - "a really strong and well-respected lawyer" with "huge amount of expertise" - Chambers & Partners 2017
      • Anne-Marie Irwin - "very good - she's on the ball and always on top of the facts, even in difficult and complex cases" - Chambers & Partners 2017
      • Polly Sweeney - "a clear voice in the often chaotic world of SEN and public law." - Chambers & Partners 2017
      • Mathieu Culverhouse - "very approachable, very thorough and an excellent solicitor." - Chambers & Partners, 2017

      We are also members of the Court of Protection Practitioners Association.

      Meet our mental capacity team.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Litigation Friend?

A litigation friend is someone who makes decisions about court cases on behalf of children and adults who lack the mental capacity to do so themselves. An adult with a litigation friend is called the 'protected party' in court.

Ligation friends' responsibilities include:

  • Making decisions in the person's best interests
  • Keeping them up-to-date with the progress of the case and finding out their wishes and feelings
  • Communicating with, getting advice from and instructing their solicitor

Anyone can apply to be someone's litigation friend for a case as long as you do not have any conflicting interests and can make fair and competent decisions about the case. Litigation friends are often family members, friends, solicitors, RPRs, IMCAs or Court of Protection Deputies.

For more advice about becoming or appointing a litigation friend, please contact us online for more information.

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Why Should I Choose Irwin Mitchell For My Mental Capacity Case?

Our experienced team of mental capacity solicitors are national leaders in mental capacity disputes.

We have been involved in a number of the leading mental capacity cases, including the landmark Cheshire West Supreme Court case, in which we represented the mother of the man at the centre of the proceedings. We are regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor, IMCAs and care organisations, who come to us because they trust our dedication and expertise in this field.

Our expert lawyers have experience in mediation and in negotiating solutions in hotly disputed cases, both inside and outside the Court of Protection. As a full service law firm, we also offer a wide variety of other services that can be helpful for individuals with reduced mental capacity, such as a representation in healthcare and human rights disputes or help with personal injury trusts.

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What Are The Deprivation Of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)?

A 'deprivation of liberty' is when an adult who lacks the mental capacity to make decisions about their care is under continuous supervision and control and is not free to leave their residence.

In certain circumstances this may be justified, but a landmark case in 2014 that we were involved in (the ‘Cheshire West’ case) has established that proper authorisation is needed.

In some situations, authorisation can be obtained through the ‘Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards’ (also known as DoLS), which allows local councils to authorise deprivation of liberty. However, in many circumstances this authorisation can only come from the Court of Protection, including where there is a dispute about the placement.

If you're involved in a dispute over deprivation of liberty, it's important to get specialist legal advice as this is a complex, evolving area of law. We are the national leaders in this field, having been involved in a number of high-profile cases, including the recent 'community DoLS' cases of Re X and NRA. Contact us today to find out more.

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Awards & Accreditations

We're always proud to be recognised for the work we do for our clients and have been named as a leading firm in the latest legal guides - which provide information and recommendations about lawyers and law firms in the UK.

Private Client Team of the Year - Legal Business Awards 2018 Leading Firm - Legal 500 2017 The Times Best Law Firms 2019 chambers-2019

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