Community Care Solicitors

Our Community Care Department regularly advises on disputes regarding services which are provided to people by local authority social services departments and the health departments where appropriate.

We advise parents and young people regarding services from local authorities for children in need, for example children with disabilities or who need support from Social Services, including children in need of accommodation. Specifically this includes

  • Children who are, or are faced with, the risk of being made homeless, including 16 and 17 year olds who have been asked to leave home by their parents.
  • Disabled children who require a child in need assessment and care plan.
  • Children who are looked after by local authorities (that is children who are in care or children being otherwise accommodated by the local authority who are unhappy with the services that they are receiving).
  • Young people who are, or may be, care leavers between the ages of 18 and 25 who were looked after by the local authority when they were children for more than 13 weeks and who are now owed services as care leavers or young people who think that they should fall into this group.

We act for adults with disabilities who require support at home from Social services if they are not getting the support that they need or if they are unhappy with the support they receive.

This includes:

  • Disabled adults who require adaptations to be made to their homes to allow them to live there.
  • Services for carers of adults with disabilities.
  • Adults who need special accommodation from Social services because of a disability or illness or because of their age.
  • We can also assist old people who require residential care homes where there is a dispute about paying for care home fees.
  • Younger adults with learning disabilities, or severe physical disabilities, if their difficulties are such that they require assistance either in residential care or in what is known as Supported Living.

We can act for individuals including relatives and carers for any issues involving the Court of Protection or the Mental Capacity Act 2005. This includes disputes between a family and Social services about where an adult should live if that adult lacks capacity to decide for themselves, for example, an elderly person with dementia or an adult with a learning disability. We can also advise on disputes about contact with family members who live in a care home if the family member lacks capacity.

Any queries regarding deputyships or lasting powers of attorney, disputes about medical treatment for people who lack capacity and consent and disputes regarding depravation of liberty or depravation of liberty safeguards are also dealt with by our court of protection team.

We can advise carers and relatives about best interests and best interests meetings and we work closely with our Mental Health Team in order to provide an all round holistic service.

Introduction:

A solicitor can advise you about your rights about a local authority’s duties towards you or your family members and about what options and remedies are available. One of the remedies available is judicial review proceedings.

Decisions made by public bodies are not always just, reasonable, or lawful. Decisions actions and omissions can be challenged by speaking with the public body that made the decision or by accessing the formal complaints procedure and if necessary by taking legal action through judicial review proceedings.

Procedure:

First of all we must write to the public body under a procedure called the judicial review Pre-Action Protocol and advise the public body that if no action is taken our next step will be to place the matter in the domain of the court. If the response received is not satisfactory, or if we do not receive a response, then we could issue judicial review proceedings at the Administrative Court.

To do this we send to the court a bundle of papers setting out the details of our case. One of the most important documents is a witness statement which sets out the case from the client’s point of view.

The bundle of papers that we send to the court is an application for permission for judicial review proceedings against the local authority. The papers are considered by a Judge who will make an Order deciding how the case should proceed.

Once the papers are issued at court a copy of the bundle is served on the Defendant and they have the right of reply in a form called Acknowledgement of Service which must be filed at court within 21 days of the papers being served on the public body.

If the case is urgent we can submit the bundle to court with a request for urgent consideration which means that it is considered within a short timescale, typically 5 working days.

The Judge might make a decision on the papers available in the bundle or he may order that the case be heard orally. This means that the Judge wishes to hear arguments put forward by barristers for both sides of the case. If there is to be an oral hearing the court will advise that this is the case.

If through negotiation an agreement is reached with the public body before the court makes an Order we can draft a Consent Order and this is a document which sets out the terms of the settlement and it is signed by both parties. The Consent Order is then sent to the court to be sealed and made officially binding resulting in the end of the case. All such negotiations are discussed with clients before any agreement is reached.

We can act on a privately paying basis or under our legal aid contract for clients who are eligible for legal aid. We have a legal aid contract for providing community care advice.

Legal advice work in community care is covered under Legal Help scheme which includes advice and assistance but does not include representation or an application to court. In some circumstances experts including barristers can be instructed on a Legal Help case.

For judicial review proceedings and court of Protection Proceedings all court fees, barrister’s fees and other legal work is covered under the terms of a Legal Aid Certificate.