Attorneys over-stepping the mark

Attorneys over-stepping the mark

Cases involving Attorneys acting outside their authority, through excessive and inappropriate gifting, or poor investment decisions are becoming increasingly common-place.

The Court of Protection, which is referred cases from the Office of the Public Guardian where Attorneys or Deputies have acted inappropriately, is seeing more and more cases of cavalier, ill-conceived and abusive behaviour from Attorneys. Many of these Attorneys have taken it on themselves to make large gifts of money and property to themselves and other family members, without considering their responsibilities under the Mental Capacity Act or stopping to think whose best interests they are acting in.

The charity Action on Elder Abuse conducted research on financial abuse, and found that many families do not perceive financial abuse as harmful and think it is acceptable to take money from an elderly relative if inheritance of the money is likely anyway or to secure assets and prevent their inheritance being spent on care fee costs.

Understandably this is not the view shared by the Court of Protection, the Office of the Public Guardian or the Crown Prosecution Service who consider there is a public interest factor in favour of prosecuting people who take advantage of a position of authority or trust to take advantage of a vulnerable victim.

Acting as someone's Attorney or Deputy is an onorous and responsible role, which requires the person to be aware of the case law, the Law Society and Public Guardian Practice Notes and – most importantly - the limits of their powers. Clapham and Collinge solicitors advise many Attorneys on an ad hoc basis re decision-making and can assist with advice, or can take over the role, if things are becoming difficult or if no-one suitable is able to act.

For more information, or to speak with our expert solicitors, contact us on 01603 693500 or email