It is four years since The Independent began campaigning for access to the closed hearings of the Court of Protection (CoP) – the legal system for those without the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.
The Justice Secretary’s plan to review the situation is, therefore, welcome. Due credit must also go to the judges, however. Their sensitivity to the balance between individuals’ right to privacy and the need to hold public authorities to account has seen this newspaper attend nine private CoP proceedings in recent years.
It is simplistic to suggest that the court’s hearings should automatically be open to all. Rather, the CoP should be brought into line with the Family Court, where the media has access to hearings, with the proviso that the details reported are subject to negotiation with the presiding judge. The President of the CoP is understood to be already considering calls for changes in the rules. It can only be hoped that such changes go ahead.