Controllerships: All You Need To Know

controllership.jpgIn the wake of the new Mental Capacity Bill currently working its way into NI law, and also given that it is Dementia Awareness Week 2016, it is an important time in Northern Ireland for people to consider just about how much becoming mentally incapacitated with an illness such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease could affect their ability to manage their financial affairs.
The possibility of losing your mental capacity is certainly not a nice area to dwell on.  Whilst in reality many of us will be able to look after our affairs as independently as ever throughout our lives, others suffering from illnesses such as dementia may not be able to do so.

In a previous blog article on Enduring Powers of Attorney, we set out information on how you could take sensible steps whilst mentally and physically capable of doing so, to put in place measures that would reassure you that your financial affairs would be managed by a trusted family member in the event that you lost your mental capacity.

However, what if a person has already become mentally incapable and an Enduring Power of Attorney has not been executed?

When a person is deemed no longer able to manage their own finances and they have put nothing in place to stipulate who can manage their finances on their behalf, the responsibility for the management of their property and affairs is vested in the High Court through what is known as a ‘Controllership’.

Here’s all the information you need:-

What is Controllership?

A Controller is a person appointed by the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland under the Mental Health (NI) Order 1986 to manage the property and financial of an adult who is mentally incapable of doing so themselves.

Who acts as Controller?

Typically a Controller will be a family member or friend of the Patient but may be Court Officer if circumstances require.

When is a Controller appointed?

If a Court is satisfied on the basis of medical evidence that a Patient is mentally incapable of managing personal property and financial affairs and the Patient has assets or income requiring management, a Controller should be appointed.

Is Controllership a temporary arrangement?

Once appointed, a Controller will remain in charge of a Patient’s affairs unless the Court is satisfied:-

  • The Patient has recovered.
  • That such an Order is no longer necessary.
  • The Controller is replaced by retirement or otherwise.
  • The Patient dies.
What responsibility does a Controller have and is it a paid role?

A Controller does not receive payment for work undertaken but may recover reasonably incurred expenses to a limited degree. The Controller’s powers are limited to those set out in the Court Order by which the Controller is appointed and will only ever extend to financial and property matters pertaining to the Patient. The Controller has no authority to manage health, social and welfare matters for the Patient.

What if the Patient disagrees and wants to manage their own affairs?

Once a Controller is appointed the Patient is no longer deemed legally capable of undertaking the management of their financial and property affairs. Before a Controller is appointed,  a Notice is served on the Patient advising that the procedure is underway and allowing the Patient the opportunity to object.

Who is the Controller responsible to?

The Controller is normally required to submit an annual vouched account reflecting all expenditure in relation to the Patient’s funds, to the Office of Care & Protection. The Controller cannot take any significant steps in respect of the Patient’s affairs unless authorised by the Court Order under which the Controller appointment is made, or a subsequent authority is obtained from the Master of the Office of Care & Protection.

A Controller may not incur an expense on behalf of the Patient at a cost of £500 or more without Court authority, and should retain receipts for all transactions involving the Patient’s money which exceed a value of £50.00.

How can application be made to be appointed as Controller?

Such an application can be made directly to the Office of Care & Protection or with the assistance of a solicitor experienced in Office of Care & Protection work to guide the applicant through the process.

If you would like any further information on the areas of Controllership, Enduring Power of Attorney or any other area of future planning, please feel free to contact us here or use our confidential contact form below.

Alzheimer’s Society


Alzheimer’s Society is the UK’s leading dementia support and research charity for anyone affected by any form of dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
 In a guest blog for Life Law NI,  Sam Cox, Knowledge Officer (Legal and Welfare Rights) for Alzheimer’s Society tells us about the work that Alzheimer’s Society do and how they can help you if you are dealing with dementia within your family.


 Currently there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this is set to rise to 1 million by 2021. Dementia can happen to anyone, and currently there is no cure.

Receiving a diagnosis of dementia, or finding out about a relative or friend’s diagnosis can be difficult and upsetting.  It can be hard to know what to do next, or how to access any support or care that may be needed.

At Alzheimer’s Society, we are here for anyone affected by dementia. We provide information and advice to people as well as running services.  We also invest in different types of research and work on campaigning for change.

Information and advice

We are the first point of contact for anyone dealing with dementia. Through our website, factsheets and booklets, National Dementia Helpline and face-to-face services, we provide comprehensive, reliable and up-to-date information about dementia. This can be anything from information about Enduring Power of Attorney, to care home fees through to accessing a diagnosis.

We also operate a 24 hour online forum – Talking Point – whose members are people affected by dementia who offer support and advice to one another.

Care and Support

We have almost 3,000 local services across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, providing practical and emotional support for people with dementia and their carers.

These services include dementia advisers and support workers, dementia cafes, day and home support, befriending, carer support groups and Singing for the Brain groups.


We also fund research that not only looks at finding a cure and the causes of dementia, but looks at best practices in care and how to prevent it.

The distinctive feature about our research is the integral involvement of people with dementia and their carers. This is as those with a direct experience of living with dementia inform our research priorities.


Alzheimer’s Society also campaigns for changes that improve all aspects of care and support for people affected by dementia.

You can find further information on the Alzheimer’s Society and the work they do on their website


Parenting NI

Parenting NI has been a leading organisation for supporting parents in Northern Ireland since 1979.    In a guest blog for Life Law NI, Emma Lyttle from Parenting NI provides us with some information about the organisation and the services they provide:-


Since being established in 1979, Parenting NI has become a leading parenting support organisation committed to delivering high quality services to parents throughout Northern Ireland.

At Parenting NI, our primary aim is to contribute to the well-being of children and young people by supporting parents and to influence policy and practice on parenting.

Our values are underpinned in all of Parenting NI projects, including the following:

  • The safety and well-being of children is paramount
  • Parenting should be valued
  • Parents need to be supported
  • Support services for parents should be universal and accessible
  • Parents have the right to expect high quality services
  • All families should be valued equally, regardless of their structure or background
  • Parents and young people are entitled to be able to talk confidentially
  • Parents have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and not to be judged
  • Parents have the right to expect organisations with whom they are involved to be open, honest and accountable
  • The rights and responsibilities of parents, children and young people should be protected and respected

The Work We Do

All of Parenting NI services have been developed based on the needs of parents.  Our focus is primarily on prevention and early intervention in order to ensure the best outcomes for children and young people.

At Parenting NI, we envisage a future where parenting is highly valued, and family members receive the support and resources they need to provide a happy and safe environment in which children and young people can achieve their potential.

As an organisation, we try to do achieve this goal in many ways and by providing a number of services:-
  1. Parenting Helpline

The Parenting NI Helpline offers a free phone service based in Northern Ireland. Our helpline team have been specifically chosen to ensure that all callers receive the most appropriate support and guidance in relation to family issues.  The Parenting NI helpline team also have knowledge of local services that are available regionally to ensure that all families with any additional needs can access other support if required.  Call us on 0808 8010 722 to avail of our helpline service.

  1. Counselling Service

 Our Parent’s Counselling service focuses on finding realistic, manageable solutions for you and your family, empowering you to meet your own needs and goals. Parent’s Counselling offers a confidential, professional service, in a warm, friendly atmosphere, where you will be listened to and given space to explore any issues relating to parenting.

  1. Programmes & Workshops

We offer a range of parenting programmes throughout Northern Ireland to help parents build on their skills and knowledge about parenting.

We aim to keep our programmes fun and interactive through participation and group work, in a setting where everyone feels safe and supported. Participating in one of our programmes is also a great way to meet other parents experiencing similar issues, build confidence and improve family relationships.

  1. Parental Participation

We believe that it is important that parents have their voices heard.  We have been engaging parents through consultation since 1999. The consultation process is an important opportunity for parents to share their views. In consulting with parents, it enables our organisation to highlight the key issues and needs of parents in order to influence policy, planning and service delivery.

For more information on Parenting NI, visit our website on WWW.PARENTINGNI.ORG

LIFE BITE: Thinking of pulling a sickie to enjoy the sunshine? Think again!

apple-150579_1280For the last few days, Belfast has enjoyed some unexpected sunshine with temperatures rivalling those of European holiday destinations like Spain and Italy.   Summer seems to have arrived … though for how long is anyone’s guess!   


The last place many people want to be during the hot weather is in work – most of us would rather be dusting off the BBQs and basking in the sunshine.  However, if you’re considering “pulling a sickie” to avail of what may be the only few days of a Northern Irish summer, think again!

The Employment Appeal Tribunal in England dealt with the case of Metroline West Ltd v Mr Ajaj and has held that ‘pulling a sickie’ is dishonest and a fundamental breach of contract.  Mr Ajaj was a bus driver and although he was injured whilst at work, he falsely claimed to be worse than he was.  He wasn’t off for just one day however he was caught out exaggerating his injury as his employer had him under covert surveillance.

The Tribunal that dealt with the case initially held that the fairness of dismissal should be assessed on ‘capability’ considerations however, the Employment appeal tribunal disagreed.   The Judge dealing with the appeal stated that “an employee (who) “pulls a sickie” is representing that he is unable to attend work by reason of sickness.  If that person is not sick, that seems to me to amount to dishonesty and to a fundamental breach of the trust and confidence that is at the heart of the employer/employee relationship.”

You have been warned!

For any further information on employment law issues, please feel free to contact us here.