Publication date: January–February 2020
Source: International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Volume 68
Author(s): Janet Weston
This article explores the history of the Court of Protection of England & Wales (CoP) over the twentieth century. The CoP, which is responsible for making financial and welfare decisions on behalf of those deemed incapable of doing so themselves, presently faces a rapidly growing caseload, and considerable scrutiny and critique. Such close attention to its work may be new, but many of the issues it faces have deep roots. Using practitioners’ texts, judgements, and the archives of the CoP and the Lord Chancellor’s Office, I review the evolution of the CoP in terms of its structure and caseload, its decisions regarding incapacity, its efforts to manage the affairs of those found incapable, and its long-term survival. This reveals the origins of many of the issues it faces today, the different anxieties and approaches that have animated its work in the past, the ways in which approaches to incapacity have changed, and the value of a historical perspective.