Commissioning and monitoring of Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) services

Disputed case costs

Where there is a dispute which cannot be resolved locally, the MCA Code of Practice expects the local authority or health trust with responsibility for the decision to make an application to the Court of Protection. The MCA Code of Practice also identifies that IMCAs may themselves need to make an application to apply to the Court of Protection or for judicial review. Ensuring IMCA services have the resources to make applications is a key aspect of supporting the independence of the service.

IMCA services are not exempt from fees to access the Court. The current fees are £400 for an application and £500 for a hearing. IMCA services may incur other costs for initiating or being an interested party in legal action.

A potential inhibitor for the IMCA service to initiate legal action is the risk of the responsible body seeking to recover their costs from the IMCA service.

The original estimate for the cost of the IMCA service in England was £6.5 million. Of this it was expected that £0.5 million would be needed for disputed case costs. This could, for example, cover legal costs for the IMCA service to take cases to the Court of Protection. The expected disputed case costs were included in the provisional estimates for the cost of the IMCA service within the allocations to local authorities for MCA implementation – i.e. approximately 7.5 per cent of the suggested expenditure on IMCA service for 2007/08 was for disputed case costs.

Disputed case costs were not identified as a distinct budget area in the original example service specification. When reviewing commissioning arrangements local authorities may wish to consider the following: