Rothley Law attend roundtable discussion in Parliament, with Fabian Hamilton MP, to advise on Power of Attorney law reform

Friday, 19th April 2024

Contact: Andrew Bishop, Lucy Taylor

Rothley Law is proud to be one of the legal experts invited to meet with Fabian Hamilton MP in Parliament this week. We are supporting essential reform to prevent abuse of the power of attorney system and safeguard the vulnerable. This builds on our firm’s continuing support over predatory marriage reform.

As a firm specialising in private client law, we see firsthand the escalating nature of this abuse and the impact on victims and family members. We passionately believe that reform can be secured to prevent this abuse continuing. Read what Fabian has to say, below…

Fabian Hamilton holds roundtable discussion with legal experts and victim-survivors of Lasting Power of Attorney Abuse

This week, Fabian Hamilton MP, held a roundtable discussion in Parliament with lawyers and victim-survivors of Lasting Power of Attorney Abuse. This often hidden abuse is rife across the country with victim-survivors’ testimonies covering a range of issues related to assets, estates, finances and burial requests – typically alongside the psychological and emotional abuse of the person who lacks capacity, and of other family members who raise concerns.

With over 6 million people in the UK having a Lasting Power of Attorney agreement, the imminent digitisation of the application and registration process is only becoming more open to abuse. While there will be some new safeguards related to identity checks, the Power of Attorney Act 2023 lacks any other meaningful safeguards and focuses purely on the application process becoming faster and simpler.

Victim-survivors at the discussion in Parliament explained that they have been effectively barred from visiting family members in hospital, have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds and have lost family homes to unscrupulous abusers taking advantage of vulnerable people who lack the capacity to make decisions related to their financial welfare.

It was also highlighted by legal experts in attendance that this abuse increased exponentially during the pandemic and we are beginning to see the results of that now.

Fabian Hamilton MP said:

“The experiences of victim-survivors is nothing short of harrowing. Families’ possessions, estates and funds are being stolen from under their noses. It was deeply disturbing to learn of the lack of safeguards as well as the lack of any political will to put them in place. The Bill passed last autumn has some very deep flaws. The government now has serious questions to answer as to how the incoming digitisation of the Lasting Power of Attorney process will not increase this abuse, which is already widespread.

There is also currently no pressure on banks to take responsibility to protect their customers and they only act on their own safeguarding procedures when they feel like it. This is not a party political issue, but the lack of action by the current Conservative government is making it so. That’s why I’m bringing a Bill to Parliament, which I believe will have cross party support similar to the way in which my Predatory Marriage Bill did.”

Fabian’s Bill will call for:

  • The implementation of government regulated safeguarding procedures for all banks, over the way they deal with Lasting Power of Attorney agreements and the accounts of donors. This includes contacting the donor or a GP before a Lasting Power of Attorney agreement is activated, and monitoring spending prior to and after a Lasting Power of Attorney agreement is activated.
  • New powers for the Financial Conduct Authority to hold the Office of the Public Guardian to account on dealing with potential cases of abuse, including oversight of freezing orders.
  • A change in ethos at the Office of the Public Guardian, which would deprioritise the financial sustainability mission statement in order to prioritise the safeguarding of vulnerable people.
  • A new public information campaign to encourage the use of the OPG100 which outlines whether someone has taken out a Lasting Power of Attorney. This includes the introduction of online notices after signing a Lasting Power of Attorney agreement and before the registration of such an agreement.
  • Immediate freezing orders for those under investigation so they cannot pay legal fees with the donor’s funds.
  • The introduction of Care Home updates for the Office of the Public Guardian register, which protects new residents who lack capacity and where an attorney produces a Power of Attorney agreement. A care home or other provider must have an obligation to update the register.
  • The introduction of mandatory notification to the Office of the Public Guardian of the death of a donor.

Latest news