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MP raises fears over 'appalling and inherently unfair system' of out-of-hours legal judgments


MPs are to consider the issue of out-of-hours Court of Protection cases after The Independent revealed that judges were being forced to make life or death decisions over the phone.

John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP, tabled an Early Day Motion on Monday, calling on the Justice Select Committee to look into what he described as an appalling and inherently unfair system. He was concerned about decisions being made in the Court of Protection, which decides welfare issues on behalf of those deemed incapable of choosing for themselves, by judges over the phone instead of at a full hearing.

Mr Hemming said there was a need for greater scrutiny after it emerged that nobody knew how many such judgments had been made. In his motion Mr Hemming, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Family Law and the Court of Protection, said applications for one party risked “creating a judicial momentum that families have difficulty in resisting”.

A spokesman for the Justice Select Committee said it would consider the motion at its next meeting. The Ministry of Justice said that out-of-hours decisions were made with the “same degree of seriousness and diligence as any other judicial decision”.