SOME of the most vulnerable members of the community will be able to benefit from expert help after a North East law firm boosted its health and welfare team.
Stephen Williams, one of the most experienced Court ofProtection lawyers in the country, has been appointed by BHP Law to lead its Court of Protection health and welfare services.
He will work alongside partner and head of Court of Protection Karen Pratt, who leads on property and finance, to provide a comprehensive service.
The firm, with offices in Newcastle, Darlington, Durham, Stockton and Tynemouth, already covers the North East and North Yorkshire but is now expanding into Cumbria.
Over the years BHP Law has built a strong reputation for Court of Protection work representing the interests of people who do not have the capacity to manage their finances and care.
Stephen, 39, who is originally from Stanley, in County Durham, will concentrate on community care, health and welfare and mental capacity law, a relatively new focus for the team.
His department represents anyone with learning disability, autism, dementia, Korsakoff’s syndrome or other brain-related impairments. It protects their best interests covering a wide range of issues including where they should live, their care, with whom they should have contact, sexual relations, marriage and consenting to medical treatment.
Stephen started practising in the Court of Protection in 2008, a year after the Mental Capacity Act 2005 came into force.
Regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor, advocates, relevant person’s representatives and independent mental capacity advocates on behalf of the person at the centre of the proceedings, he also acts for family and other individuals who find themselves involved with the Court of Protection.
Stephen, who trained as a barrister, has successfully challenged deprivation of liberty in care homes resulting in people returning to live in the community and successfully kept people in their own home, preventing local authorities from placing them into care homes.
He has been successful in ‘best interests’ cases, leading to improved packages of care and people being placed in more appropriate accommodation, and has been successful in overturning unlawful contact decisions.
“The best thing about our job is that we deal with real people at a time when they need our help the most and intervening on their behalf to make their lives better,” said Stephen, who previously appeared in theatrical productions as an actor and was involved in film and television productions.
“Many people get written off too early by the social and mental welfare system and we can make a huge difference to their lives.”