LPA rules for legal executives don’t make sense, says MP

The current rules governing legal executives’ scope relating to powers of attorney “[do not] make any sense”, the Member of Parliament (MP) behind the Powers of Attorney Bill has said.

Currently, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) lawyers can participate in the creation of a power of attorney (POA) but cannot certify as genuine a copy of the same document, something Justice Minister Mike Greer says is an “anomaly” which the upcoming Bill will rectify.

Conservative MP Stephen Metcalfe introduced the Bill to parliament. On legal executives’ limitations in the area, he said:

“The process to certify a copy of a power of attorney does not require specialist legal skills, yet, under the existing legislation, chartered legal executives—lawyers who provide mainstream legal services—are not included among those who are able to do that.

That does not make any sense and is not in line with the evolution in the legal services sector that has allowed chartered legal executives to carry out many of the same functions as solicitors.

Indeed, during the pandemic, the Land Registry used its discretionary powers to accept copies of lasting powers of attorney certified by chartered legal executives.”

He added:

“By amending the current legislation and enabling chartered legal executives to certify copies of powers of attorney, we will remove the barrier facing chartered legal executives in the provision of this service, increase the channels through which consumers can certify a copy of a power of attorney, and promote consumer choice and generate competition in the legal services market.”

Irwin Mitchell’s Ian Bond previously commented on the Bill’s proposed changes:

“The Bill seeks to bolster safeguards and explicitly permit a third-party to object to the registration of a LPA, which is an important protection.”

What’s more, though he welcomed the proposal for an electronic system set out in the Bill, he recognised that “not everyone is able or willing to use modern technology,” adding that “this should be catered for, but not be the reason to hold back”.

This issue was raised in the most recent parliamentary debate of the Bill, with Metcalfe subsequently confirming that the paper-based system will remain in place.

Bond also conceded his disappointment that the Bill “did not include the Law Society’s recommendation that certification should expressly include consideration of the donor’s capacity”.

Holly Chantler, Director of SFE and Partner at Morr & Co., recently reinforced the importance of LPAs and the benefits of digitalisation:

“Digitalisation offers the opportunity to create a more efficient service for creating powers of attorney. This process still requires significant development to ensure older and vulnerable individuals are protected.

As discussed in parliament, our growing ageing population means powers of attorney will become increasingly more important.

As an organisation, SFE is keen to raise awareness around why having an LPA is vital in ensuring your wishes are carried out should you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. Our main priority is to ensure this service provides safeguards when making and using the power of attorney.”

See the Bill’s current progress.

2 Responses

  1. The whole of the system is still heavily weighted against legal executives and practitioners who do not follow the traditional route into law. The Land Registry still insist on solicitor certification, lender panels will only include solicitors on their panel, restricting smaller firms unnecessarily and there are many more examples. I recently called a share registrar to deal with a probate matter and was not allowed to deal with it over the phone as I was not listed on the Law Society website. As the Law Society do not deign to include other qualified professionals I was unable to carry out my job despite being more qualified in that area than the solicitor who I had to ask to make the call for me.

  2. I have information downloaded from the Office of the Public Guardian’s website explaining how a donor can make an official copy of a LPA without the need to go to a Notary or another

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