An ‘exceptional’ order in the Court of Protection

In Re TA (Recording of hearings; Communication with Court office), the Court of Protection recently made an injunction to restrain P’s son, TA, from communicating with the court office by e-mail and telephone. The court recognised that this was an “exceptional” order but one that was “entirely justified” by the facts of the case.

TA had a history of making persistent and excessive correspondence with the Court of Protection court office in Leeds. In December 2020, the court of its own motion directed that the issue of TA's communication with the court office be considered specifically by the court and ordered the preparation of a witness statement from the Operations Manager at the Court of Protection court office.

The data is staggering.

The Operations Manager’s statement recorded receiving 150 e-mails from TA in 2019, 217 e-mails in 2020 (total 367 – approximately – 15 per month). Her statement goes on to reveal that the e-mail/correspondence traffic generated between TA, the judiciary, and the other parties, in a recent 'snapshot' of three months (September, October, November 2020) amounted to 392 separate pieces of mail/correspondence sent/received.

In addition, TA made 39 COP9 applications in the case over the 24-month period, 35 of these were made in 2020 (i.e. approximately three per month in 2020). Adding to the written communication, TA is reported to telephone the court office regularly, usually when he issues an application (which he does regularly – see above), receives orders/replies from the court office or after a hearing; she estimates that the calls are made approximately twice per week and the staff report that the telephone calls average between 30 to 40 minutes in duration.

The Operations Manager also observed that TA routinely challenged the competence of HMCTS staff, and he is known often to accuse the staff of colluding with the Local Authority against him.

The judge noted that it was TA’s practice to copy in many recipients to his emails - often over 100.

This may sound awfully familiar to many clients operating in the health & care sector.

Appropriate injunctive relief ?

As the court explained, unless the court intervened there was a substantial risk that the process of the court would continue to be seriously abused, and that the proper administration of justice in the future would be seriously impeded by TA. It therefore concluded that the injunction represented a proportionate restriction on TA's ability to communicate with the court office. The court also attached a penal notice to the injunction.

We have obtained injunctions for clients in similar circumstances who have required an injunction to protect staff.  Please do not hesitate to contact our experienced team if you have any similar, challenging contacts.

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