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Sometimes I'm scared of you: Britney’s Conservatorship
The US pop star Britney Spears has addressed the Los Angeles court that granted her Conservatorship Order back in 2008. The 39-year-old the told judge that she had been drugged, forced to perform against her will and prevented from having children, as she asked the Court to end a conservatorship that has governed her life for the last 13 years.
Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, was originally appointed as her conservator following the determination that she was unable to make decisions for herself, both in relation to her financial affairs and her personal decisions. In 2019, he resigned as conservator regarding his daughter’s personal decisions due to health reasons, and a care professional was appointed to take on this role.
Recent legal proceedings saw Jamie’s appointment as the sole conservator for the singer’s finances changed to a joint appointment with The Bessemer Trust (a financial company) and extended until September 2021. However, Britney has now sought to dismiss her father from this role completely and to have the conservatorship ended.
Conservatorship in the US is the equivalent of appointing a Deputy through the Court of Protection in England and Wales. There are a few parallels to be drawn between the two countries’ approach to mental capacity. Both the courts of the US and England & Wales require separate appointments for property and affairs and then for health and welfare matters. This is in recognition of the fact that the two areas relate to different decisions.
The Courts of England & Wales and the US recognise that a Deputyship or conservatorship does not have to last forever. A Deputy is required to continually review their client’s capacity, to make sure it remains appropriate for the Deputyship to be in place. Should a client regain capacity the Deputyship must be discharged, and financial control relinquished. An application can also be made to request that a Deputy is replaced. In this situation the Court will look to assess if having a Deputy - or conservator - is in the client’s best interest.
Within the Court of Protection, the autonomy of the client is the central consideration in decision making, with the Court giving significant weight to the individual’s wishes and feelings, as well as what they would have wanted had they had the capacity to make the decision themselves.
The fact that Britney has been afforded this opportunity to address to Court can only be seen as a positive step. Given the media hype surrounding the case and increasing fan pressure through the #freeBritney movement, we will have to wait and see if the court is influenced.
How our solicitors can help you
Isobel is a solicitor in our dedicated Court of Protection team. Should you have any queries in relation to Deputyships, applying for a Deputyship or a change of Deputy then please contact Isobel and the rest of our expert Court of Protection solicitors for further advice. Call 0800 027 2557 or fill out a contact form here.