Judge ‘considered placing billionaire at centre of feud in nursing home’

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The judge considered placing the elderly patriarch of one of Britain’s richest families in a public nursing home after suffering from dementia and becoming the focus of a tussle between relatives in an expert courtroom.

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After a hearing in the Court of Protection, Justice Hayden expressed concern about the welfare of 86-year-old billionaire Srichand Parmanand Hinduja.

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The Hinduja family tops the 2022 Sunday Times Rich List and is said to be worth more than £28bn – financial news agency Bloomberg says the family is worth around £12bn.

But Mr Justice Hayden said Srichand Hinduja’s needs were “marginalised” because of a family dispute, despite his wealth.

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He has described how at one point he concluded that Srichand Hinduja should leave the hospital, but added that relatives had not found private housing despite “the extraordinary scope and reach of their financial capacity”.

The judge said he was prompted to consider appointment to a public nursing home.

Mr Justice Hayden, the second most senior Court of Protection judge in England and Wales, has outlined the concerns in written rulings published after a public hearing in London.

Court of Protection judges deal with issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Judges generally sit in public but generally rule that vulnerable people at the center of litigation in the Court of Protection cannot be named in media reports of cases – their human rights to respect private and family life. to protect.

But Mr. Justice Hayden, who also hears cases in the High Court’s family division, has ruled that Srichand Hinduja and others involved in the case may be named.

Details of the proceedings emerged on Friday when judges from the Court of Appeals in London analyzed the issues and also ruled that journalists could name those involved.

Official solicitor Sarah Castle, whose office helps vulnerable people embroiled in the trial, represented Srichand Hinduja’s interests – and argued that journalists should be allowed to name him.

He said that “open reporting” was likely to provide a “protective layer” for Srichand Hinduja – and acknowledged that the “intense focus of the parties on their own issues” had “marginalized them in repeated protection proceedings”. Gave”.

Bloomberg reporter, PA news agency plus blogger Professor Celia Kitzinger also argued in the public interest, saying she should be allowed to name names.

Mr Justice Hayden has eased reporting restrictions imposed in 2020 after proceedings began, after concluding that the “unique circumstances”, partly created by the “public profile” of the Hinduja family, led to “effective reporting”. “was terminated.

The judge said the risk of journalists “effectively turning off reporting” while writing anonymous reports, or inadvertently violating reporting restrictions.

He said that the Court of Protection Litigation had started in June 2020.

Srichand Hinduja’s brother, Gopichand Hinduja, challenged the validity of the Permanent Power of Attorney for the property and cases Srichand Hinduja gave to his daughters, Vinu and Sanu Hinduja.

Gopichand Hinduja argued that, because of his dementia, Srichand Hinduja would have lacked the ability to create that permanent power of attorney.

The judge noted that at one point Vinu and Sanu Hinduja had described how they “drawn on Srichand’s property to meet their costs of this suit”.

He said it was “further recognition and acceptance” that he attracted those funds for “his own personal purposes”.

Mr Justice Hayden said that “the conflict of interest was so prominent” and therefore “contrary to the fiduciary obligations of the lawyers”, that both Vinu and Shanu Hinduja “rejected the role”.

He said he had appointed a lawyer to act as Srichand Hinduja’s “deputy for property and affairs”.

The judge said Srichand Hinduja was admitted to the hospital in March 2021.

He said Srichand Hinduja’s “treatment advisor” then told him that the elderly businessman had “very little time to live”.

The judge said Srichand Hinduja “misleaded his doctors”.

Mr Justice Hayden heard how family members were also embroiled in a separate High Court row in London over family property.

The details of that dispute came to light in 2020, when another judge, Mrs Justice Falk, published a preliminary decision, and named those involved.

Srichand Hinduja had sued the brothers Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok Hinduja over a letter dated July 2014, signed by all four, which stated that “property in the name of any one brother belongs to all four”.

He wanted a declaration that the letter had no “legal effect”.

Mrs Justice Falk said Srichand Hinduja had taken legal action against her brothers to “determine the validity and effectiveness” of the letter.

He explained in that judgment how Srichand Hinduja was suffering from dementia, lacked the mental ability to instruct lawyers and had appointed Vinu Hinduja to act as his “litigation friend”.

Mr Justice Hayden said he was told that the family had agreed to “heads of the terms” with the intention of ending “all disputes” between them in “all courts”.

Gopichand Hinduja told him that the “quarrel” was over.

Gopichand Hinduja had argued that reporting restrictions preventing those being named should remain.

Mr Justice Hayden had dissented and the restrictions were lifted – Gopichand Hinduja then challenged that decision in the Court of Appeal.

David Rees Casey, who led Gopichand Hinduja’s legal team, told three appeals judges that Mr Justice Hayden had made a “mistake” by considering “irrelevant factors” and giving “insufficient consideration of relevant factors”, including: Srichand Hinduja’s attitude to publicity, the extent to which “genuine” information is likely to fall into the public domain, and the potential past and future effects of propaganda on the funding of Srichand Hinduja’s care.

Mr Rees argued that Mr Justice Hayden had failed to perform “the ultimate balancing exercise”.

He suggested that the journalists covering the proceedings were interested in putting together a “volume of war and peace”.

John McKendrick Casey, who represented Vinoo and Shanu Hinduja, also challenged the decisions made by Mr Justice Hayden.

Mr McKendrick argued that Mr Justice Hayden had erred in rejecting a “halfway” approach to reporting – an order that prohibited the reporting of details of Srichand Hinduja’s health, treatment and care arrangements, in order to protect their dignity. Without stopping the reporting of a family dispute.

He argued that Mr Justice Hayden was wrong to say that issues of property and affairs were “inextricably linked” to issues of health and welfare.

We acknowledge that the application of a standard reporting restriction order to this family precludes any meaningful reporting of the proceedings and the family issues behind them.

Appeal judges Lord Justice Peter Jackson, Lord Justice Baker and Lord Justice Warby said those involved in the proceedings could be named in media reports.

But he barred the reporting of intimate details about Srichand Hinduja’s health and care.

In a judgment on appeal published on Friday, Lord Justice Jackson said, “the unique public profile of Srichand Hinduja and his family makes these proceedings very non-representative of the work of the Court of Protection.”

“We acknowledge that the application of a standard reporting restriction order to this family precludes any meaningful reporting of the proceedings and the family issues behind them.”

But he said there was “no conceivable public interest” in making the “intimate details of medical and personal care” public.

Journalists covering the proceedings and Professor Kitzinger insisted that he had no intention of reporting “intimate details”.

Lord Justice Jackson acknowledged that journalists covering the proceedings would take a “responsible approach”.

But he said there was no “guarantee” about the approach “others” might take.

Credit: www.standard.co.uk /

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