The recent documentary "Framing Britney Spears" brought the topic of mental capacity to the forefront of discussion in the Court of Protection forums last month. The New York Times documentary offered a window into the world of conservatorship in the USA and how this had impacted on not only the financial but family side of the high profile singer's life. 

Conservatorship is the US equivalent of appointing a Deputy through the Court of Protection in England and Wales. Like in the US, here there is a separate appointment for property and affairs and then for health and welfare matters. This is recognition of the fact that the two are in relation to different decisions.  There are some stark differences between the two jurisdictions, with one lawyer in  the documentary pointing out she had never seen a conservatorship ended in her career. A Court of Protection Order for the appointment of a Deputy for property and affairs is usually "until further order", putting a duty on the Deputy to keep capacity under continuous review. For health and welfare, these are given out much more rarely and often for a set time period to cover a specific issue such as a dispute over residency or medical treatment. 

The news today signals that Britney is pushing for her father to be permanently removed as her conservator, and for her wishes to be taken into consideration with the appointment of an independent expert in the field.  It will be interesting to see how this develops and whether the influence of the media interest has any effect on the position with regards to who holds the role of supporting Britney through conservatorship. 

In the Court of Protection, the autonomy of P is an increasingly hot topic, with the Court giving significant weight to what an individual would have wanted if they had the capacity to make the decision themselves. We touch upon this in more detail in the first episode of the Shoosmiths COPCast which can be accessed here: