Fact-finding hearings in the Court of Protection
Produced in partnership with Alex Ruck Keene and Michelle Pratley of 39 Essex Chambers
Fact-finding hearings in the Court of Protection

The following Private Client practice note Produced in partnership with Alex Ruck Keene and Michelle Pratley of 39 Essex Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Fact-finding hearings in the Court of Protection
  • When is a fact-finding hearing required?
  • Preparing for a fact-finding hearing
  • The determination of contested facts
  • Fact-finding and future risk
  • Fact-finding—consequences

A fact-finding hearing will be required in some welfare cases in the Court of Protection to resolve contested factual issues in the proceedings.

When is a fact-finding hearing required?

The vast majority of welfare cases in the Court of Protection are resolved without a fact-finding hearing. Most often this is because even when the parties do not agree about what future course of action is in the vulnerable person (P)’s best interests, they are in agreement about the relevant background facts the court should consider.

It is only in a small minority of cases that the court uses its case management powers to direct that a fact-finding hearing takes place to determine facts that are in dispute.

Fact-finding hearings are most commonly directed by the court (either separately or as part of the final hearing) in what might be termed ‘safeguarding cases’ brought by local authorities. In such cases, the local authority is usually seeking adverse findings against an individual or individuals to support its contention that (for instance) their contact with P should be limited, or that P should live somewhere other than in the family home. See Practice Note: Safeguarding and the Court of Protection, which sets out common pitfalls to be avoided in cases of this kind.

In general terms, the court will decide to exercise its case management powers to direct a fact-finding hearing when

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