NI: Law Society welcomes call not to scrap Enduring Powers of Attorney

John Guerin, president of the Law Society
John Guerin, president of the Law Society

The Law Society of Northern Ireland has welcomed a call by MLAs not to scrap Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA).

An ad hoc committee of MLAs from the Justice Committee and Health Committee has recommended not abolishing EPA as part of the Mental Capacity Bill.

Their recommendation was accepted during last week’s debate on the legislation.

EPA is used to grant legal authorisation to act on someone else’s behalf in a legal or business matter.

It gives the attorney the power to dispose of property, deal with financial affairs, sign documents and make purchases on behalf of the individual if they become ill or unable to make decisions about their finances.

Under proposals included in an earlier draft of the Mental Capacity Bill, the Department of Justice and Department of Health suggested abolishing EPA and introducing Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) which cover property, affairs, health and welfare.

However, the Society argued the proposals would adversely affect the public, highlighting the complexity and cost of the new LPAs.

John Guerin, president of the Law Society, said: “The recommendation to retain EPAs in Northern Ireland is a victory for common sense and consumer choice. It will ensure the public have the choices and flexibility to plan for their future needs.

“The Society wishes to recognise the Minister for Health, Simon Hamilton, the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee, Alastair Ross MLA and Deputy Chair Patsy McGlone and the members of the Committee for their hard work and consideration of the evidence which was placed before them.”

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