What is an ALR?
ALRs are members of the Law Society's Mental Capacity (Welfare) Accreditation Scheme who have fulfilled the additional requirements for approval under that scheme as an ALR.
In Court of Protection proceedings, the person at the centre of the proceedings and to whom the proceedings relate is often referred to as ‘P’. The Law Society describes ALRs as playing “an essential role in ensuring that a P who lacks capacity is at the centre of proceedings in the [Court of Protection]. Given the vulnerability of the client group - who will, by definition, lack capacity to conduct the proceedings - and the importance of the issues litigated in the [Court of Protection], those practitioners who are appointed as ALRs must demonstrate high professional and ethical standards to maintain confidence in this sensitive role”.
What is the role of an ALR?
Rule 1.2 of the Court of Protection Rules 2017 (hereafter ‘CoP Rules 2017’) states that in every Court of Protection case, the judge must give thought to whether P should take part in the case. The role of an ALR is defined by Rule 1.2(2)(b) of the CoP Rules 2017 as being “to represent P in the proceedings and to discharge such other functions as the court may direct”. Guidance provided by the Law Society states that this includes:
What is the difference between an ALR and a litigation friend?
The appointment of an ALR is a possible alternative to a litigation friend in appropriate cases.
A litigation friend can be appointed to make decisions about a case for P when P lacks capacity to make his/her own decisions about the case. The court could appoint anyone who is suitable and willing to act as a litigation friend for P; for example, a family member or friend. If there is no one suitable and/or willing to act as a litigation friend, the court will ask the Official Solicitor to consider acting as P’s litigation friend. The person being appointed as litigation friend for P must accept the court’s invitation to take on this role before their role as litigation friend begins.
Whilst it may seem beneficial to have a litigation friend who can make decisions for and on behalf of P, this is not always necessary especially at the beginning of proceedings in cases where the issues are relatively defined or when the issues before the court are not overly complex. ALRs can assist the court where urgent orders are required and it would not be possible to appoint a litigation friend in that time. ALRs may also play an important role in narrowing the issues that require the court’s determination. This would allow the already stretched resources of litigation friends, such as the Official Solicitor, to be reserved for more complex cases
When deciding whether to appoint P a litigation friend or an ALR, the Law Society’s guidance says that the court will need to consider the following:
The other options available to the court to ensure P’s participation in proceedings
Rule 1.2(2) of the CoP Rules 2017 lists five options available to a judge to ensure P’s involvement in the proceedings. The five options are:
How can Conroys Solicitors LLP assist?
Conroys Solicitors LLP has an experienced and knowledgeable mental capacity team specialising in Court of Protection matters. If you consider you may have a case that would benefit from having Elizabeth Conroy or Ben Conroy be appointed as an ALR, please do not hesitate to contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our lawyers.