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Am I with the right Professional Deputy?

Whilst a deputy’s job is the same whichever law firm they work in, the standard of service and the delivery of service will differ greatly.

Gareth Williams

by Gareth Williams

calendar_month 24 Apr 23

schedule 2 min read

Is your Deputy the right one for you/your family member?

Whilst a Deputy’s job is the same whichever law firm they work in, the standard of service and the delivery of service will differ greatly.

Larger Court of Protection teams will often be able to demonstrate a high level of expertise in the area, but can fall foul of having too many demands on their time. Building a relationship takes time and effort; if there is insufficient investment in the relationship due to a lack of available time or resources, clients can start to feel part of a series of internal processes rather than being at the centre of a personalised service.

At the other end of the spectrum, a firm with very few Court of Protection clients may not have the experience needed to deal with an area of law that is often very tricky. Additionally, they may not have the resources to deliver the service you want.

A “one-size” fits all approach rarely works well for Court of Protection clients. Whilst there will be some things that are the same for clients, and there are certain professional obligations that need to be satisfied for every case, your Deputy and their team should be making decisions based on what is right for you and your circumstances. You should feel like your Deputy is listening to you and that they shape their service delivery around you, rather than expecting you to fall in line with how they operate for everyone else. Working with you to be able to say ‘yes’, is a far more respectful attitude than saying ‘no’ because they don’t do it for anyone else. After all, it is your money.

Do you feel empowered enough?

There are Court of Protection clients who want their Deputy to do everything for them, but the majority will want to be as independent as possible. A Deputy should do as little for the client as is needed in each case. Taking on too much of the responsibility can prevent the client’s development and feeling of self-worth. Clients are often far more capable than they themselves believe and by taking appropriate measures to safely challenge clients to take responsibility they can improve a client’s quality of life immeasurably.

Do you feel your Deputy is over-working the file?

Deputies will have many tasks they need to fulfil to be compliant with their professional obligations. They need to make sure the funds are protected and that nothing they do compromises the safety of anyone involved in the case. That should not however be a green light to carry out work that is not needed to be done by them. This is particularly relevant when family support can be called upon without any risk to the client. An annual budget should be established to keep an appropriate level of control over the finances and so, most other activity on a file ought to be in response to matters arising from time to time.  One sign to look out for where a Deputy or their team may be over-working a file is them sending multiple emails covering individual points as opposed to a single email or telephone call covering them all. A Deputy’s fees will be assessed by the Senior Courts Costs Office but short emails will often be allowable when judged in isolation.

In terms of a Deputy’s costs, one thing to consider is where you live in comparison to where your Deputy’s firm is based. Solicitors charge according to the National Rate, which is based on geography. A National 1 firm will be allowed to charge more than a National 2 firm because of the increased costs of trading from a large city centre, compared to that of a smaller city centre or town. If you live in an area which is classed as National 2 and you are paying National 1 rates because that is what your Deputy can charge, it may be wise looking to see whether there is a National 2 rate Deputy better placed to act for you. Most Deputies now have the resources to look after clients all over the country. Costs will always be a consideration for clients, but it shouldn’t be the only factor. A good service is worth paying for so long as it is affordable.

Do you feel like you can approach your Deputy and their team and speak freely?

Communication must work in both directions for a successful relationship to be formed. Honest exchanges are crucial to that. If you want something, you should feel comfortable in asking for it, and likewise, your Deputy should feel comfortable saying ‘no’, if that is what they think is best for you. They should however explain to you why they have taken that position. A Deputy that won’t take your call or provide you with an explanation for their decision is not providing you with the service you require. A good Deputy will try to work with you to find a way of saying ‘yes’ before saying ‘no’.

Is your Deputy free to use third parties of their choosing?

If your Deputy has engaged with financial advisers or any professional third parties, have they offered an explanation as to why those third parties have been chosen and were you involved in the process? It may be inappropriate for a Deputy to use third party professional service providers with whom there is a formal business relationship or connection as the decision to use them may come from internal policy as opposed to deciding the matter on your best interests. It isn’t always the case, but it may be a sign that your needs are not being put before the needs of the Deputy’s firm.

Has your Deputy been appointed simply because their firm conducted an injury litigation claim for you?

It is quite common for personal injury and medical negligence firms to have developed the expertise and specialism to properly serve clients needing assistance with matters pertaining to the Court of Protection and consequently, it is natural for clients to become clients of both areas of the business. That is not to say that it must happen. A firm may have an excellent injury litigation team, but their Court of Protection team might not be the right fit for you. It is possible to have the two services provided by different firms.

If you are unsure about whether your Deputy is right for you, why not speak to the team here at Price Slater Gawne and ask how we do things? We are proud of our personalised approach to Professional Deputy services. We would be happy to see if we can provide you with the service you want. It is normally better to work through your problems with your Deputy before deciding to leave them but, once you have got to that stage, often it is best for both parties to go their separate ways and for a new Deputy to be appointed.

If you would like to speak to one of our lawyers about an application to replace an existing Deputy, please get in touch today on 03333 058375 or email We are here to help you.

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