Social work expertise, best interests and the court of protection


Lindsey, J. and O'Reardon, M. 2021. Social work expertise, best interests and the court of protection. The Journal of Adult Protection. 23 (6), pp. 397-406.
AuthorsLindsey, J. and O'Reardon, M.


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.

KeywordsWelfare; Expertise; Social Work; Evidence; Mental Capacity; Best Interests; Court of Protection
JournalThe Journal of Adult Protection
Journal citation23 (6), pp. 397-406
PublisherEmerald Publishing
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
Online29 Sep 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted11 Aug 2021
Deposited22 Nov 2022
Copyright holder© 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright informationThis AAM is provided for your own personal use only. It may not be used for resale, reprinting, systematic distribution, emailing, or for any other commercial purpose without the permission of the publisher.
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