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The judgement in Re ACC & Ors [2020] was handed down by Her Honour Judge Hilder earlier this year.

The proceedings brought into question whether it was in the scope of a Deputy (managing P’s financial affairs) to instruct solicitors and conduct litigation on P’s behalf especially within their own firm. The Deputyship order in this case, as in many, did not contain any provision which granted authority to do so and Her Honour Judge Hilder used this opportunity to clarify matters.

The outcome of which was the following –

  • When making a Deputyship application, the proposed Deputy should consider what the likelihood is in having to instruct their firm to deal with legal issues and use the opportunity to seek authority within the original application where possible.
  • A Deputy must obtain three quotations for proposed legal work and must then make a best interests decision as to who to instruct.
  • If costs for proposed legal work exceed £2,000 plus VAT then the Deputy must apply to the court for authority to incur those costs.

It is clear from the judgement that a Deputy must take reasonable steps to obtain alternate quotations prior to instructing their own firm to carry out legal work. The implication of this is that it is obviously more time consuming for a Deputy. Notwithstanding this, if a matter is urgent, the Deputy may proceed with legal work however they must be aware of the costs risk. The Deputy can later make an application to the court for retrospective approval and at this point may claim costs back from P’s estate.

In Re ACC, Her Honour Judge Hilder allowed costs to be remunerated after the event but warned that this does not mean that a similar result would be achieved in all cases. Evidently, the guidance for Deputies is to always exercise caution when instructing professionals to carry out alternate legal work on P’s behalf.

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For more information call our Court of Protection team to discuss your options on 01484 821 500 or email willsandprobate@ramsdens.co.uk to book a free information session at any of our offices.