Skip to main content

Court of Protection

Volume 471: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the average length of time taken by the Court of Protection to deal with an application in the most recent period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (181971)

Since the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) on 1 October 2007 we have received 4,871 applications to the Court of Protection. In the same period the court has issued 3,163 orders although many of these will have been for applications on legacy cases and received prior to 1 October 2007.

Where an application to the court requires an oral hearing the Court of Protection aims to list it to be heard within 15 weeks and all cases received since 1 October are within this target. Where there is no hearing required the Court of Protection aims for customers to have received a direction within 21 weeks and new cases are broadly in line with this target.

These are the maximum time limits and allow for the serving of papers by the parties involved and the submission of their evidence. Cases can be dealt with more speedily than this if these processes do not take the full time allowed for them under the court's rules. However, targets assume that parties will take the full time available to them to serve papers and provide further evidence. There is also a process to allow for interim directions to be made during this period if a judge feels it is appropriate.

There are delays due to high volumes with some legacy cases although every effort is being made to identify urgent cases and deal with them as a priority. We have provided additional resources to the court team in December and again in January and expect the backlog of legacy applications to have been cleared by the end of February.

It is impossible at this stage to give an average time for completing an application as the new structure has not been in place for 21 weeks—our main target for issuing directions. We will of course be able to provide fuller information later in the year when we have the data to work with.