Retired judge warns of the lack of safeguards in the power of attorney system in England and Wales
Denzil Lush, a retired senior judge, says people should be far more aware of the risks of giving powers of attorney and that the appointment of deputies by the Court of Protection has more safeguards. The power of attorney is a legal document, which allows someone to make your financial decisions when you can no longer do so.
Last year, almost 650,000 applications were made to register the document and there are 2.5 million currently registered, according to an item on the BBC.
For 20 years Mr Lush was the senior judge in the Court of Protection, which looks after the interests of people who do not have the capacity to look after themselves. He has adjudicated in 6,000 power of attorney cases.
Mr Lush described the encouragement to sign powers of attorney as a “crusade” by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which “demonised” the legal alternative - the appointment of deputies by the Court of Protection itself. Mr Lush said there is far more scrutiny from the outset with a deputy as they have to provide a full list of assets, and annual accounts. Deputies also have to provide a security bond, which can be easily claimed if there is a problem with money being spent inappropriately.
The Ministry of Justice responded: “Safeguarding vulnerable people is our priority. We take swift action if any abuse is reported and have a zero tolerance approach to any attorney or deputy who breaks the law.”