JEMMA Morland is a Court of Protection solicitor for EMG Solicitors in Durham

“‘Think of solicitors and I’m sure you think about us working on criminal court cases, helping you to buy a house, or drawing up your will.

People don’t think of a solicitor as someone who would help them manage their daily finances, advise on college courses, or even learning to drive.

But as a Court of Protection solicitor for EMG Solicitors in Durham, that is exactly what I do. My job is to manage the financial, health and general affairs of people who the courts have identified as lacking the mental capacity to do it themselves, and who don’t have a Power of Attorney.

I act as Deputy for a number of people, many of whom have suffered a brain injury and need extra support with money and budgeting, sourcing therapies, living accommodation and other everyday things. In some circumstances, I may be acting as someone’s Deputy for the rest of their life, so trust, confidence and honesty is vital if the relationship is to work.

No major decisions regarding finances can be made without the Deputy’s input. My job is to act in the best interests of our client at all times, even if that means protecting them from themselves sometimes.

I became a Deputy for Amanda Richards seven years ago after she suffered catastrophic head, arm and leg injuries after being deliberately run over. Her injuries were so severe that she had no memory of adulthood and believed she was just 12-years-old for a considerable time afterwards.

Amanda was unable to manage money, was easily confused, and had a poor memory.

Following the court case, Amanda was awarded a substantial damages award from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, based on the lasting negative impact the assault would have on her life. For starters, working full-time was no longer an option. She still suffers fatigue, has poor concentration and has constant pain in her legs.

At the very beginning, I asked Amanda what her goals were, and she said getting back to work and buying her own house.

I helped her to buy her first home, sourced builders’ quotes for renovations, and helped her when she wanted to buy a second property to rent out, so she could earn an income. I manage those properties and oversee her investments to ensure the damages she received cater for her needs for the rest of her life.

At the beginning, Amanda would overspend, and often wanted to lend people money. My job was to advise Amanda, talk about the pros and cons, and help her make an informed decision. Amanda appreciates that I will always act in her best interests, even if it means we have a different point of view sometimes. It’s a great job because you help people to live their best life, and hopefully, as in Amanda’s case, you see them gradually regaining their independence. With Amanda, we are now budgeting for her wedding to her fiancé Tom, so it’s a happy ending.”

  • For Court of Protection advice, telephone EMG solicitors on 0191-500-6989.
  • This Legal Expert column has been provided in conjunction with the Law Society.