CILEx urges government to follow Land Registry on powers of attorney

09 July 2020

CILEx urges government to follow 
Land Registry on powers of attorney

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has welcomed the decision of the Land Registry to accept copies of lasting powers of attorney (PoAs) certified by CILEx Lawyers and called for a change in the law to make it permanent across the board.

New research shows that the anomaly which prevents CILEx members from certifying copies of PoAs causes unnecessary delays and confusion, to the detriment of clients.

The Power of Attorney Act 1971 only allows solicitors and notaries public to certify copies, but the Land Registry has said it will accept them from CILEx Lawyers for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

CILEx has long maintained that there is no reason for this distinction, and a survey of members practising in wills and probate shows that it causes them a problem an average of 10 times a month.  That results in something like over 2000 delays at a time of massive strain on families that can only cause even greater distress.

The research also found that it had a negative effect on firms’ quality of service – 75% said it caused delays – client satisfaction and fees.

As one respondent said: “My clients do not understand why I cannot offer this service myself. If I am qualified to act as a certificate provider and also to prepare the lasting power of attorney, then why am I not able to certify that a document is a true copy of an original document that I have already prepared?”

Another observed: “We can now become partners of law firms, have rights of audience in the courts, become judges, swear oaths as a Commissioner for Oaths, but we cannot certify a lasting power of attorney as a true copy of a page of the original document?”

Several respondents reported how it could be difficult to find a solicitor willing and able to certify copies in a timely manner, depending on where they worked. One explained how the PoA had to be sent to another office of the firm, meaning a delay of up to a week.

CILEx Chair Chris Bones says: “We strongly welcome the Land Registry’s move and hope it will become permanent. It is showing justified confidence in the competence and qualifications of CLIEx Lawyers and we urge the government to take measures to make this a permanent arrangement.

“Modernising practice in this way helps ensure affordable and timely access to legal services, particularly for the more than one million people especially susceptible to COVID-19. Our research shows how this outdated legislation is causing real people real problems, in an environment where concerns are already accentuated by the current pandemic.

“Removing such an illogical constraint to release more than 3,000 CILEx Lawyers to meet the needs of vulnerable people can only be a good thing and we urge other areas of government and the justice system to follow the Land Registry’s example.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Louise Eckersley, Black Letter Communications on 0203 567 1208 or email:

louise.eckersley@blacklettercommunications.co.uk

Kerry Jack, Black Letter Communications on 07525 756 599 or email:

kerry.jack@blacklettercommunications.co.uk

Notes to editors:

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) is one of the three main professional bodies covering the legal profession in England and Wales. The 20,000-strong membership is made up of Chartered Legal Executives, paralegals and other legal professionals.

CILEx members are regulated through an independent body, CILEx Regulation. It is the only regulator covering paralegals.

CILEx provides career support and training, with qualifications open to those holding GCSEs, A levels or a degree. Over 100,000 students have chosen CILEx over the last 25 years, with the majority studying whilst in full or part-time employment.

CILEx offers the opportunity of a non-graduate route to qualification as a lawyer, although graduates are also welcomed and the Graduate Fast-track Diploma offers a more affordable and viable alternative to the LPC.

Those who complete the full CILEx qualification are known as Chartered Legal Executives. They can become partners in law firms, coroners, judges or advocates in open court.

CILEx is committed to supporting members to deliver accessible legal services to the public.

The membership is diverse – 72% of members are women and 12% are from a BAME background.