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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 need legal support to carry out your role. Our experienced team of mental capacity lawyers can give you expert advice and representation if you need to dispute a decision or challenge a deprivation of liberty.

Deprivation of Liberty challenges can be tricky for IMCA and RPRs. Legal advice can help you comply with the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). You can make a challenge for someone if they:

  • Don’t agree that they lack mental capacity
  • Want to leave residential care and move back to their own home
  • Want to move to a different, less restrictive, residential placement.

As well as cases under the DoLS, our mental capacity solicitors can also help IMCAs and RPRs with issues around:

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

We understand that these issues are time consuming for IMCAs, RPRs and other advocates. 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.

Top ranked mental capacity lawyers in the UK
Experienced at all levels including Supreme Court
Dedicated Court of Protection team
Offices around the country

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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 an issue, an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) is often appointed. They’ll help decide what’s in the person's best interests if there’s no one else appropriate.

      Relevant Person Representatives (RPRs) represent people facing a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) authorisation in a hospital or care home. The RPR supports them through the process and can help them challenge their deprivation of liberty if needed.

      When no one else can take on the role of representative, a paid relevant person's representative (PRPR) is appointed.

    • What Is The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005?
    • The Mental Capacity Act 2005 ('the MCA') is the law which sets out how to make decisions for people who lack mental capacity. Under the law, any decision made must be in the best interests of the person in question.

      People involved with decision-making could include family members, advocates (including IMCAs), care home managers and other care organisations.

      In most cases, everyone involved can agree on a decision through 'best interests' decision-making process under the MCA. Any serious disputes 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 unable to make their own decisions. It makes decisions for them about their money, property, health or welfare.

      The Court can also give these powers to someone else if decisions need to be made on an ongoing basis. This person is known as a Deputy. We can help you apply to be a Deputy or we can act as a Deputy for someone.

      The Court of Protection can intervene if there are disputes about any decisions made for a mentally incapable person. They can also help with disputes around who should be making decisions.

      Read more about the Court of Protection.

    • Is There Any Funding Available?
    • Legal Aid is available for this area of law. In some cases, you don’t have to prove your income is below a certain level through a ‘means test’ to get Legal Aid. This means it’s available to anyone subject to a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) authorisation.

      In other welfare cases, means tested legal aid is available. The means of the person being represented are tested for legal aid, rather than the means of the IMCA, RPR or other litigation friend.

      In other cases, it may be better to continue on a privately funded basis.

    • Meet The Experts
    • Our team of mental capacity solicitors is ranked first in the country by Chambers & Partners and Legal 500, organisations that 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.

Without Irwin Mitchell challenging the Local Authority we would still be awaiting an answer.”

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Litigation Friend?

A litigation friend is someone who makes decisions about court cases for 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 don’t have any conflicting interests. It’s important you 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’ve been involved in leading mental capacity cases, including the landmark Cheshire West Supreme Court case. We represented the mother of the man at the centre of the case. We’re 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 negotiations in hotly disputed cases, 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. We can help with 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 constant supervision and control and isn’t free to leave their residence.

In certain circumstances this may be justified. In a landmark case in 2014 that we were involved in (the ‘Cheshire West’ case) ruled that these decisions need proper authorisation.

In some situations, local councils can give authorisation through the Deprivation Of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). In many circumstances, this authorisation can only come from the Court of Protection, including where there’s a dispute about the placement.

If you're involved in a dispute over deprivation of liberty, it's important to get specialist legal advice for this complex, evolving area of law. We’re 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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