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Julia Lomas heads a β€˜professional and approachable’ team at Irwin Mitchell which β€˜always ensures that the clients’ funds are spent appropriately’, and is β€˜understanding and supportive of its clients and can be relied upon in times of crisis’. With a large team and nationwide presence, the firm has the ability to handle the full suite of services in property, health and welfare, and regularly acts in cases involving multimillion-pound damages. It has a number of β€˜excellent practitioners’ nationally, among them Sheffield-based Yogi Amin, who is β€˜superb’ for mental health and mental capacity issues. Alex Rook is β€˜first rate’ for community care, mental capacity and human rights law; and the β€˜exceptional’ Polly Sweeney, who is based in Bristol, β€˜manages a large number of cases while apparently staying on top of every detail’. Leeds-based Joanne Fraser is β€˜very efficient and always ensures that she gets the best for her clients’, and the β€˜compassionate and prompt’ Michael Knott is β€˜knowledgeable and very approachable’. Recent work includes representing a wife whose husband suffered serious and permanent brain damage following a motorcycle accident and was in a minimally conscious state; the client wished to follow her husband’s values and to discontinue his current treatment in the form of clinically assisted nutrition hydration, with the judge ultimately finding that the husband would have exercised his right to self-determination and declaring that it was in the husband’s best interests not to consent to further treatment.

Thomson Snell & Passmore has β€˜a wonderful team that delivers every time’, and stands out for its β€˜personal and understanding approach’. Head of department Eddie Fardell is β€˜a doyen in this field’ and is praised for his β€˜vast experience and intelligence, which are matched by plain common sense’. Brian Bacon and Martin Terrell β€˜together provide an excellent service to the most vulnerable’. At senior associate level, Anna Bond is β€˜extremely knowledgeable’, and Catherine Fuller is β€˜incredibly efficient and knowledgeable and shows a real sense of passion about her work’. The large and dedicated team continues to receive a steady flow of referrals from other law firms, counsel and the Official Solicitor, as well as a significant amount of expert witness work. It is also increasingly involved in referrals for investigatory matters where previous deputies and attorneys have been removed for misconduct. It handles the full array of instructions, across property and financial deputyships, welfare and contentious cases, and personal injury trusts. β€˜Its knowledge is clearly evident in everything that it does. It is there to ease the client’s pressures and it does this successfully. It is undoubtedly one of the leaders in this field.’

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Stephen Richards and Julia Abrey at Withers LLP are β€˜streets ahead of most in terms of the complexity of work they are involved in, frequently with an international dimension’. Abrey heads the elder law team, which has significant experience in dealing with international financial assets in a Court of Protection context. She is β€˜very committed’ and is β€˜a leading light in this area’; she gives β€˜straightforward, robust and caring advice’ and is β€˜plainly very experienced in this area both in terms of the law and the practical problems that can arise for people later on in life’. Richards is known for his contentious work and β€˜fights really hard for his clients. He really cares about them’. Also on the contentious side, Paul Hewitt has β€˜a depth of knowledge and an unerring sense of what is realistic to achieve which set him a cut above the rest’. At associate level, Deborah Nicholls is β€˜calm, efficient and sensible’, and Carly Barrett is also β€˜efficient, with good interpersonal skills’. The group has extensive expertise in drafting and using welfare lasting powers of attorney, and acts for over 100 charities on issues arising out of legacy income and challenges to gifts left to charities. Abrey is also noted for her work on living wills.

The head of the team at Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP is senior associate Sheree Green, who β€˜at all times shows empathy with her clients, is very aware of the complex nature of their needs, and shows a competent and caring attitude to solve their problems as best she can’. Alex Elphinston, also a senior associate, is β€˜prompt, courteous, and committed’, shows β€˜great attention to detail’, and is β€˜very thorough’. Elphinston acts as a Court of Protection financial deputy in high-value personal injury and clinical negligence matters, and also acts as an expert witness when there are problems with professional deputy costs. Donna Holmes is β€˜a true professional and is caring. She has a vast amount of knowledge beyond her years’; she is experienced in creating and administering personal injury trusts for people who have suffered injury and received compensation or may in future receive means-tested benefits. The group offers a full service to individuals, charities and not-for-profit bodies, and local authorities, covering matters ranging from health and welfare through to mental health, property and financial affairs. β€˜The team’s standards and its commitment to clients are very high.’

Anthony Gold has β€˜an excellent reputation. It has a fantastic team approach. It does not shy away from difficult client issues and is very responsive and very professional’. The β€˜friendly and approachable’ David Wedgwood heads the department, and β€˜makes the perfect deputy. He is very impressive, has excellent client skills, grasps issues quickly and remains calm no matter what’. Other key members of the β€˜first-rate’ team include Alexandra Knipe and Nicola Gunn, who β€˜explain things clearly and well to clients’. Knipe specialises in working with clients with acquired brain injuries, severe physical disabilities and mental illness. Gunn has extensive experience in supporting vulnerable clients and their families. The group has been busy on a wide range of contentious work including applications to recover assets and call in security bonds, welfare applications, and deprivation of liberty matters. It has recently been appointed as the UK deputy for a high-net-worth individual from Hong Kong; and was also appointed panel deputy after a contested deputyship application for an 80-year-old lady suffering from dementia: after the death of her husband there were allegations of financial misappropriation by two sides of the family. The β€˜well-respected’ team also includes solicitors Emma Tante and Donovan Lindsay, who β€˜ensures that the physical and functional needs of these often very vulnerable clients are fully met in a timely way’.

Paul Ridge heads the team at Bindmans LLP, which has β€˜great strength in depth, and combines great commitment to clients with a first-class analysis of its cases’. Associate Charlotte Haworth Hird, who has particular expertise in cases involving non-UK nationals, is β€˜extremely experienced and able. She is also very knowledgeable and efficient, with a caring and principled approach that serves her clients well’. Solicitor Laura Hobey-Hamsher is β€˜excellent, with very good judgment and attention to detail. Her ability to work through huge amounts of disclosure to identify the key documents (which could change the direction of a case) is second to none’. Solicitor Will Whitaker is β€˜a future star – he has demonstrated judgement well beyond his years in dealing with difficult clients’. Ridge primarily deals with welfare, medical treatment and deprivation of liberty cases, and is instructed by both family members and on behalf of those who lack capacity. The group also acts in cases involving breaches of an incapacitated adult’s ECHR rights, and the circumstances in which artificial nutrition and hydration should be withdrawn from a patient in a minimally conscious or persistent vegetative state. The team β€˜does a fantastic job for its clients’ and is β€˜recommended for the most difficult cases’.

Bircham Dyson Bell’s team is led by Alastair Collett and includes James Freemantle, who is β€˜quick to understand a case, perceptive and accurate in his judgements, and clear in choosing which strategy to pursue. This he then does with ruthless efficiency while continuing to remain calm’. The team is best known for managing capacity difficulties for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, ranging from public figures to members of large Middle Eastern families, and has particular expertise in contested cases.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP has a team of β€˜very respected practitioners and is recognised for its particular expertise in international matters and acting for high-net-worth individuals with complicated tax and family arrangements’. The β€˜technically excellent, kind and compassionate’ Suzanne Marriott is β€˜one of the biggest names in the world of Court of Protection and is usually the first choice of professional deputy for disputes concerning wealthy individuals’; she is β€˜really a star in this area’, specialising in cross-border and UK mental capacity matters and regularly acting as an independent deputy for finances, health and welfare where the family is in dispute about residency and the tax implications of losing non-UK residency and domicile. The β€˜calm and enormously experienced’ Duncan Elson has β€˜a good eye for his clients’ priorities and how to achieve these quickly and cleanly’. Senior probate and trust manager Grainne Feeney β€˜is becoming well known for her work in this area. Again, she is technically competent and timely in her responses to any questions raised’.

Foot Anstey is β€˜one of the leading firms in the South West of England for Court of Protection work, with significant experience in mental capacity issues’. Andrew Hannam is β€˜hugely experienced in all aspects of mental capacity work’; Stacey Bryant is β€˜a very impressive deputy – she is tenacious yet understanding’; the β€˜very experienced’ Patricia Wass is β€˜a first-class lawyer and panel deputy’; and senior associate Holly Mieville-Hawkins is β€˜fantastic with clients, and achieves excellent results’. The firm specialises in personal injury and clinical negligence matters, including personal injury trusts, in addition to elder law and other areas involving statutory wills and issues of physical and financial abuse. Key clients include the Official Solicitor and the Office of the Public Guardian.

With β€˜a great mix of seasoned practitioners’, and three court-approved professional deputies, Gillhams Solicitors LLP has β€˜an established reputation in this area’; it has β€˜real strength and depth for COP work and provides an excellent service to clients’. The β€˜compassionate’ Russell Caller heads the team, and β€˜has many years as a panel deputy behind him’. Also recommended are Lisa Cornish, Hina Tailor and Christopher Poxamatis, who is β€˜forward thinking and professional’. The team β€˜listens carefully and acts wisely, and takes the time to get to know its clients’.

Andrew Harding at Hugh James leads β€˜a team of experienced solicitors and other support staff who offer a complete package to clients’; his β€˜knowledge, experience and manner with clients are second to none. He is also very approachable and trusted by the courts as an expert witness’. The β€˜excellent and responsive’ Kate Coles is also recommended. The team, which is notable for its extensive resources in both England and Wales, deals solely with high-value complex cases arising from damages claims.

JE Bennett Law β€˜provides a professional service in a friendly, sensitive and reassuring way. It is obvious the team has a detailed knowledge and understanding of the Court of Protection, and the procedural rules together with the rules relating to deputyship costs’. Jane Bennett is β€˜prompt, personable and exceptionally knowledgeable’, and is β€˜at the top of her game’. The team assists a wide range of individuals subject to the Court of Protection, whether through brain injury, illness, clinical negligence, personal injury or age-related issues.

Leigh Day is β€˜a force to be reckoned with, and is one of the firms at the forefront of mental capacity issues’, with Sean Humber leading β€˜an excellent COP team’. It includes the β€˜practical and very knowledgeable’ Emma Jones and Merry Varney, who were promoted to partner; Frances Swaine, who specialises in human rights law and is regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor in best interests applications; and solicitor Anna Moore, who has β€˜tremendous judgement and excellent client skills’. Its recent work includes advising on withdrawal of treatment cases and residence issues, in addition to contact and care matters. Clients include the Official Solicitor, relatives of protected individuals, and charities (as intervenors). Solicitor Kate Egerton is instructed by the Official Solicitor on behalf of a young adult with learning difficulties who does not have the capacity to make decisions about contact with her family.

Nicola Mackintosh at Mackintosh Law β€˜quickly cuts to the chase, is a very powerful and thoughtful lawyer, and puts her heart into each case’. The firm provides specialist advice to disabled clients in the niche area of mental capacity and community care. It recently acted for P in the case of A County Council v (1) AB (2) JB (3) EWCOP 4, where the judgment emphasises that P is the focus of proceedings and that P’s participation should be carefully planned to ensure that they are involved as much as possible, leading to the issuance of formal guidance by Mr Justice Charles.

Rachel Turner at Miles & Partners LLP provides β€˜thorough and practical advice’. She has β€˜all the qualities you would want in a lawyer who represents vulnerable and incapacitated adults. She is compassionate, knowledgeable and wise. She knows when to fight and when to be pragmatic in cases. She is also well respected by others who work in this area’. Floyd Porter is also recommended. The specialist group has extensive experience in mental capacity and mental health issues, and is experienced in challenging detentions in hospital under the Mental Health Act (particularly in relation to forensic mental health detentions) and in challenging unlawful detentions by bringing High Court actions for judicial review. It is regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor and by relatives.

Penningtons Manches LLP provides β€˜exceptional client service and has a very competent team with in-depth knowledge of this area’. Head of department Julie Burton is β€˜always available’ and acts as a professional deputy for many clients (both children and adults) with complex brain injuries arising from a personal injury where there is a substantial compensation award. Senior associate Rebecca Sparrow is experienced in working with adults with complex behavioural problems. The practice acts for a number of international as well as UK clients, and manages 108 deputyships and 30 trusts.

Russell-Cooke LLP has β€˜a specialist team that is quick and provides very sound advice. It is able to deal with complex matters including cross-border capacity issues well’. Practice head Rita Bhargava is β€˜a real expert and is passionate about her work. She genuinely cares about the clients whose affairs she looks after. She is professional and compassionate, and is someone whom you can turn to on all capacity-related issues’. Gareth Ledsham is β€˜clever as well as practical’, and Richard Frimston is β€˜beyond excellent on complex cross-border matters’. Associate Hannah Mantle is β€˜highly knowledgeable and diligent as well as very personable and approachable’. The team is experienced in contentious and non-contentious matters, and has considerable expertise in matters of complex private international law.

Simpson Millar LLP is β€˜trusted by the Official Solicitor with the trickiest of cases’. The β€˜very sensitive and astute’ Julie Cornes has β€˜a very good manner with vulnerable clients’, and the β€˜sensible, thorough and hardworking’ Oliver Studdert regularly represents children in a range of cases including extradition proceedings, criminal proceedings and judicial reviews. Associate Zena Soormally is β€˜a very organised and thorough associate who is a deep thinker and something of a perfectionist. She is a very good litigator who is able to remain on top of large and detailed cases’. Angela Jackman specialises in Court of Protection, community care and public law matters, including acting in mental capacity disputes concerning best interests and deprivation of liberty applications and cases for vulnerable adults and children.

Steel & Shamash β€˜undertakes high-quality work in health and welfare cases in the COP – undertaking important representation for the incapacitated and often for the Official Solicitor’. The β€˜very experienced’ Janice Kaufman leads the team, and is β€˜highly knowledgeable about sensitive cases involving the exploitation of the vulnerable. Her work is marked by a tireless dedication to get the right result’. Associate Shivangi Majithia is often instructed in cases where there is an interplay between the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the Children Act 1989 and the Family Law Act 1996, including applications for forced marriage protection orders and nullity petitions for incapacitated adults. Solicitor Andrew Bowmer is β€˜a very good and experienced practitioner in this area and the related area of community care’. The department continues to receive referrals from family members, advocacy centres and law centres, and is trusted by the Official Solicitor to act for vulnerable adults in cases involving the neglect or sexual abuse of children and in other highly contentious matters. Damian Cullen is now at the Office of the Official Solicitor & Public Trustee.

Switalskis Solicitors has β€˜a caring and efficient team that is financially aware’. York-based Michael Kennedy heads up the team along with director and solicitor Alex Guy, who is based in Sheffield; Guy joined the team from hlw Keeble Hawson and is β€˜a very able and knowledgeable practitioner who has an excellent grasp of the law and its practical application in cases involving severely injured claimants. He also takes a special and personal interest in his clients, which is vital in this line of work’. The team is renowned for dealing with complex mental capacity and welfare cases in addition to deprivation of liberty challenges and community care challenges. Huddersfield-based Alison Kaye specialises in representing adults who lack capacity to make decisions in various aspects of their lives, including capacity to consent to a sexual relationship. Chartered Legal Executive Caroline Hurst, who is based in York, β€˜fights fearlessly for her clients’. Among the team’s recent workload, Guy was appointed to act as a deputy to deal with the future of an individual awarded very substantial damages as a result of a cerebral palsy claim against a hospital.

Weightmans LLP provides β€˜very solid advice in a timely manner’. Simon Goacher and Richard Jolly, in Liverpool, and Birmingham-based Tony Yeaman are key contacts in the team, which continues to act in a wide range of welfare, health and property matters for local authorities, NHS trusts, and private health and social care providers. The team advises on issues such as consent, mental health and capacity, and best interests assessments. Highlights included acting for Knowsley MBC in proceedings concerning an elderly person with an acquired brain injury in proceedings about where he should reside; and acting for Leicestershire County Council in proceedings concerning a child whose father is seeking to remove them to reside in an African country; the council has concerns over the care that the child would receive given their lack of capacity and mental health difficulties.

asb law LLP has β€˜an excellent reputation for its work in this area and has particular expertise in helping clients who are suffering from brain injuries’. Team head Glen Miles β€˜stands out for his knowledge and ability to work closely with healthcare and social service professionals’, and is well versed in Court of Protection financial and health matters. The team continues to support a large number of clients with a wide range of illnesses, injuries and disabilities, as well as elderly clients. Associate Stella Mullane leads the vulnerable people team in Crawley.

Adrian Mundell heads the team at Ashtons Legal. The group acts as professional deputy for over 100 clients, in addition to acting in cases where it supports family members who are acting as lay deputies. Much of its work is for clients who have suffered a catastrophic acquired or birth-related brain injury, and the group also works with elderly clients and individuals with mental health problems. Tom Cook has been appointed as deputy to some 40 protected people by the Court of Protection.

The specialist team at Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors is led by Lesley-Ann Mayhew, who β€˜has lots of experience of acting for incapacitated foreign nationals who have received personal injury awards’. She handles work nationally, and has a specialism in cases involving multimillion-pound damages awards for claimants of medical negligence, as well as having considerable cross-border expertise. The firm has a track record in a wide range of Court of Protection matters including applications concerning statutory wills, lifetime gift orders and special needs trusts. Andrew Flannagan is also well regarded.

Simon Lindsay at Bevan Brittan LLP is recommended. He specialises in mental health and mental capacity issues and acts for a range of NHS, local authority providers and commissioners across the country. The team’s strengths include its β€˜professionalism, responsiveness and sensitivity when dealing with complex matters’. Senior associate Hannah Taylor is β€˜very experienced and helpful’.

Boyes Turner has β€˜an extremely client-focused, efficient and well-organised team’ under the leadership of Ruth Meyer, who is β€˜sensible, personable and supportive’ and is β€˜a leading light for COP work’. Anne Pearson β€˜always goes that extra mile for her clients’.

Francis Lyons leads the team at Capsticks LLP, which specialises in advising NHS providers and commissioners as well as public, private and charitable sector clients (such as community enterprise organisations) on issues affecting incapacitated and vulnerable adults and children. It has considerable expertise in cases involving an overlap between the Mental Health Act, the Mental Capacity Act and deprivation of liberty safeguards. It successfully acted for a London NHS trust in an application to the High Court for authorisation for serious medical treatment to an adult with a long-term history of schizophrenia.

Cartwright King fields a β€˜committed, efficient, compassionate and pragmatic’ team under the leadership of Conor Maguire, and focuses solely on representing individuals. It is regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor as litigation friend in legally aided and privately funded cases where the client lacks capacity. Lauren Crow is also recommended.

Clarke Willmott LLP has a β€˜highly skilled’ team. Anthony Fairweather is β€˜very knowledgeable’, and the β€˜vastly experienced’ Anne Minihane is β€˜fully committed to achieving the best for her clients’; both are members of the Office of the Public Guardian Panel of Professional Deputies. Senior associate Jess Flanagan is β€˜passionate about her work and has a strong understanding of the law and the ways in which the COP works’.

The national team at DAC Beachcroft LLP provides β€˜excellent levels of service and is very knowledgeable. It is vastly experienced and there is great support at all levels’. Practice head Gillian Weatherill and senior associate Jemma Gillson (both based in Newcastle) are β€˜excellent and well organised’, with Weatherill notable for her experience in mental health and mental capacity issues. The firm advises the NHS and independent providers of health and social care services as well as local authority commissioners of care; examples include Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.

The β€˜sensible and vastly experienced’ Jeremy Abraham leads the team at Dawson Cornwell, which provides β€˜an excellent service to clients with real depth and expertise within the team’. Abraham primarily works on cases for mid- to high-net-worth individuals, some of whom have been awarded substantial compensation. He is also experienced in areas such as declarations of capacity and applications to appoint a deputy (both financial and welfare).

Duncan Lewis Solicitors β€˜constantly strives to achieve the best possible results for its clients, and puts a tremendous amount of work into its cases’. The β€˜accessible’ Jemma Garside is β€˜particularly effective. She singles out the issues in each case with scary precision’. Angela Smith, Rachel Caswell and Peter Wusu are other key members of the multidisciplinary team, which collaborates with the firm’s experts in mental capacity, mental health, community care, clinical negligence, family, childcare and public law.

At Forsters LLP, Emily Exton β€˜can spot the key issues and formulate a successful strategy at an early stage to get the best result for the client. She brings sound judgement and common sense to any problems in a case’.

At Freeths LLP, Jane Maitland is praised for her β€˜thoughtful handling of delicate matters’, and Zandra Houston for her β€˜comprehensive knowledge and common sense’. Team head Melanie Williams works as a professional deputy managing substantial awards of compensation, and senior associate Veronica Cowdrey is β€˜enormously experienced in this practice area’.

GT Stewart Limited β€˜provides an exemplary service for vulnerable clients. The solicitors without fail work hard on every case to get the best outcome for the client with great care and dedication’. Amy Butler is β€˜very experienced, and has sound judgement and great attention to detail’. Assistant solicitor Warwick Norris is β€˜a tremendous and dynamic force’, and β€˜very bright and polite’.

Nick Moxon heads the team at Higgs & Sons, with the support of associate Annabel Kay. It continues to work closely with the firm’s clinical negligence and personal injury teams, and attracts a significant number of high-value and complex professional deputyships and associated Court of Protection instructions.

Hodge Jones & Allen LLP has β€˜a highly dedicated team of specialists. Clients feel that they are not only getting expert advice but also a very personal service’. Team head Philippa Barton has β€˜a complete understanding of this practice area, and provides clear and precise advice’. The team is well versed in property and affairs deputyships for clients who have received high-value personal injury awards.

The team at IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett), under the leadership of Jacqueline Almond, attracts a steady flow of instructions from local authorities, charities, and care homes, as well as law firm referrals.

Team head Simon Hardy at Kingsley Napley LLP has β€˜a very strong background in COP work and is used to dealing with complicated cases. He is very focused on what he can do for his clients and is an excellent mediator with families’. The firm β€˜provides an excellent service to clients’, and specialises in property and affairs matters for clients who lack capacity due to catastrophic medical negligence or acquired brain injury.

Birmingham-based Jill Mason heads the mental health team at Mills & Reeve LLP, with Bridget Archibald leading the health and care team. Highlights included acting in a complex appeal under the Mental Capacity Act to the Court of Protection, concerning a deprivation of liberty at a residential placement.

At Minton Morrill, team head Julia Morrill is experienced in supporting vulnerable people, particularly those with mental incapacity, and also their families and advisers. The team has seen an increased flow of instructions from individuals with acquired brain injuries, and conducts a significant number of health and welfare Court of Protection cases.

RadcliffesLeBrasseur acts in substantial Court of Protection cases both for institutional providers and for private individuals. Its clients include NHS trusts in London and across the UK. Andrew Parsons and Jonathan Shankland are key contacts.

Shoosmiths LLP has β€˜a client-focused team that always strives to put the client at the centre of everything that it does’. Charlotte Dunn β€˜speaks plain English and not jargon’, and Birmingham-based solicitor Rebecca Bristow is β€˜very approachable’. Clients include individuals with acquired brain injuries, mental illness, learning difficulties, and degenerative diseases such as dementia.

Slater and Gordon has a large team including β€˜outstanding’ practice head Lucy Nicol, who is based in Manchester. The β€˜extremely empathetic’ Joceyln Fox, in Cambridge, β€˜offers clear advice in language that clients can easily follow’; and Manchester-based Gillian Hitchen β€˜is very organised, manages a team well, and knows her clients very well’. Nationally the team acts as financial deputy for over 450 clients.

The ten-strong community care and Court of Protection team at Stephensons Solicitors LLP is part of the firm’s civil liberties practice, which is headed by Mike Pemberton. It acts for a range of vulnerable adults and children with physical disabilities and mental health issues. Associate Melanie Varey has developed a niche practice representing clients in relation to decisions over the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment.

Lynne Bradey at Wrigleys Solicitors LLP β€˜adopts a very personal and understanding approach which is crucial in this sensitive line of work. It gives the team the edge over other law firms’. The firm assists individuals nationwide who are vulnerable, injured, disabled or suffering from illness, and has been appointed to the Office of the Public Guardian panel deputy list since September 2015.

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