JASON LEE RAYMOND PURVIS
The claimant, who was born in 1934, left all financial matters to her husband until his death in 2005. He had made ample provision for her, with an annual income of about £100,000. She lived in a large house, in Northumberland, which for inheritance tax planning reasons she transferred to her son, the defendant, in 2006. As she continued to live in the house, to comply with the reservation of benefit rules she paid her son a monthly rent of £2,500. The claimant’s health began to deteriorate in 2011, subsequently suffering a stroke which left her with hemiplegia. By 2013, as a consequence of a road accident, she was rendered incapable of independent living and moved into a care home. Medical assessments of her mental capacity painted a mixed picture of her cognitive abilities, though it was established that she lacked capacity to make decisions as to the making of lifetime gifts from September 2015. Since the death of her husband, the claimant left the responsibility for her finances to the defendant and her bank accounts were placed into their joint names. The claimant made two Lasting Powers of Attorney (‘LPAs’) in March 2013, one of which gave the defendant and his then wife joint and several authority over her property and financial affairs. These were both registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (‘OPG’) in June 2013. Following concerns raised by the care home, the OPG carried out an investigation into the defendant’s conduct and this resulted in an application to the Court of Protection seeking an order directing him to account for his management of the claimant’s property and financial affairs, failing which an order revoking and cancelling both LPAs. By an Order dated 15 December 2016 HHJ Oliver revoked the LPAs, appointed the claimant’s daughter as her deputy and required the defendant to account for his actions as attorney to the OPG. No account was rendered and, as a result of an analysis by an independent accountant, it was established that during the period from January 2011 and January 2017 (‘claim period’) a total in excess of £900,000 of the claimant’s money was paid into the jointly-held bank accounts. Of the expenditure approximately £200,000 was identified as having been paid over the claim period for the claimant’s expenses. A balance in excess of £700,000 was, it was claimed, misappropriated by the defendant. At the trial the defendant did not appear and such evidence as was adduced on his behalf was not tested by cross-examination. He denied misappropriation and asserted that the claimant had gifted the balances standing to the credit of the accounts at the time they were placed into joint names and all subsequent deposits; or alternatively that most of the money expended was used for the claimant’s benefit.
The defendant was not present but his wife was permitted to address the court