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Social work expertise, best interests and the court of protection

Jaime Lindsey (School of law, University of Essex Colchester United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland)
Mary O’Reardon (University of East London London United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 29 September 2021

Issue publication date: 30 November 2021




The purpose of this paper is to consider the role of social work professional evidence in mental capacity law, specifically Court of Protection proceedings. The authors analyse how social workers perform as evidence givers in this domain and how social work as a profession is perceived alongside other professions within the context of adult social care decision-making in mental capacity law.


This paper draws on textual evidence from judgments and existing empirical data published elsewhere. The authors consider the contribution of social work professional expertise to best interests decision-making in formal legal proceedings which, in turn, reflects on how social work expertise is relevant in everyday practice.


The findings of this paper include that social workers are well placed to be experts on best interests decision-making in mental capacity law. However, the authors show that the Court of Protection has not always endorsed this form of social work expertise in its judgments, meaning that social workers can struggle to articulate an expert knowledge base.


Overall, the authors conclude that social work evidence is incredibly valuable as expertise about the person’s best interests, particularly in the domain of welfare cases and care planning.



Lindsey, J. and O’Reardon, M. (2021), "Social work expertise, best interests and the court of protection", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 23 No. 6, pp. 397-406.



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