Disabled pianist case makes legal history

Legal history has been made after the country’s last remaining secret court was opened up revealing the affairs of a severely disabled piano virtuoso.

For the first time journalists were allowed to attend and report on a case in a division of the High Court where hearings are normally held behind closed doors.

The Court of Protection case centred on the financial and welfare arrangements for 30-year-old Derek Paravicini, from Redhill, Surrey, who has achieved an international public profile with his musical ability despite being blind and autistic.

A judge in London gave a ruling making his parents and sister court-appointed “deputies” to look after his affairs.

Concluding that it was “not necessary” for an independent deputy to also be appointed, Justice Hedley said the crucial question was whether the family had a “sufficient degree of independence to be able to assert his welfare needs against the views of others”.

After hearing evidence from Derek’s father, retired banker Nicolas Paravicini, 72, and his sister Elizabeth, 40, the judge said: “It was transparently clear that they were committed to promoting the welfare of Derek.

“There can be no doubt in my mind but that they can be relied upon to provide an honourable and honest discharge of the duties of deputies, even though complex issues and possibly substantial sums of money may be involved.

“Moreover, they have satisfied me that they were able to withstand the pressures that may come to develop Derek’s commercial career at a pace greater than is actually good for him.”

Giving the background to the case the judge said of Derek – who can be named for the first time: “He has the great misfortune to be both entirely blind and to suffer with a learning disability associated with autistic spectrum disorder, the effect of which is to make him dependent on one-to-one care on a life-long basis.

“That is one side of the picture. The other side of the picture is that he has been endowed with a remarkable musical talent, which through his own and the efforts of others has been developed to an extent that is in demand in the public sphere.”

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