39 Essex Chambers Rapid Response Guidance Note: COVID-19, social distancing and mental capacity

In the first of what we anticipate will be a series of Rapid Response Guidance Notes, a core group at 39 Essex Chambers has produced a guidance note relating to COVID-19, social distancing and the MCA 2005. An overview of some of the key issues (as they stood at 25 March 2020) can be found in this article written by Rosie Scott and, and I have gathered resources relating to the MCA 2005 and COVID-19 here.

The Court of Protection team have been asked to advise on a number of occasions since 17 March 2020 as to the legal position where a person (“P”) lives in the community and declines to practice social distancing in circumstances where P does not (or may not) have capacity to make decisions about social contact in the circumstances of COVID-19. Clearly the consequences of P going into the community, as she ordinarily would, are (a) that she is at risk of contracting COVID-19, (b) that she may infect others, if she has the virus, and (c) that she may be in breach of the new police powers which have come into effect.

The guidance note provides a general discussion, as opposed to legal advice on the facts of individual cases, which the team can provide: please contact our clerks at plc@39essex.com.

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